Benedict 'reflects, prays' in first day of retirement
'Pope emeritus slept very well' after stepping down01 March, 19:49
"I had a nice telephone conversation with (Benedict's personal secretary Georg) Gaenswein, who was very relaxed, and he said that both he and the Holy Father slept very well," Lombardi told reporters.
Benedict's time as pontiff ended at 20:00 Italian time on Thursday after he shocked the world earlier last month by saying he was stepping down because he did not have the mental and physical strength to continue leading the Catholic Church. He left the Vatican just after 17:00 and flew by helicopter to the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. He will stay at Castel Gandolfo for two months, after which he will go to live at a monastery inside the Vatican that is currently being renovated.
In his first full day as pope emeritus, Benedict spent his time in prayer and reflection, spokesman Lombardi said. "He will spend today between prayer and reflection and he will see the messages that he has received," Lombardi told reporters after speaking on the telephone to Benedict's personal secretary Georg Gaenswein. "In the afternoon he may have his usual walk in the gardens to pray the rosary".
Lombardi also commented on Benedict's physical state. He is elderly but "in good health," Lombardi told the press on Friday. "Over the last few years we have seen him a little older, tired, stooped and sometimes with a cane, but that was for his safety and support," Lombardy said. Benedict, the first pope to stand down since Gregory XII in 1415, clocked up over three million followers on his Twitter account when before stepping down. His final tweet, sent out at 17:00 local time Thursday, was in English, Spanish and Italian. Launched on December 12, the Twitter handle @Pontifex has now fallen silent pending the election of a successor at a conclave scheduled probably for the second week of March.
But the Vatican said Friday that a meeting of the congregation of cardinals on Monday will most likely not produce a date for the conclave.
"You shouldn't expect a decision Monday, the meeting's first day," said Lombardi.
Cardinals will come together at 09:30 Italian time (08:30 GMT) at the general congregation before the conclave, which is not expected to start before March 8.