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Benedict XVI to become 'emeritus pope,' post-retirement vestments revealed

10:51 AM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during the Angelus noon prayer, St. Peter's square, the Vatican
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The Vatican has answered some of the outstanding questions about Pope Benedict XVI's future once he's retired, saying he'll be known as "emeritus pope," and continue to wear a white cassock.

The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Tuesday that Benedict himself made the decisions.

The pope's title and what he would wear has been a major question ever since Benedict stunned the world and announced he would resign on Thursday. While he will no longer wear his trademark red shoes, Benedict has taken a liking to a pair of hand-crafted brown loafers made for him by artisans in Leon, Mexico, and presented to him during his 2012 visit. He will wear them in retirement.

Being the first time in 600 years the Catholic Church has had to deal with a still-alive, retiring pope, many questions had been raised about how to recognize Benedict, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, after he stepped down.

The naming and clothing questions were just two of many that have surrounded his retirement. Another large question is what, exactly, a retired pope does.

On Sunday, Benedict told the crowd gathered at the Vatican to hear his final blessing that God is calling him to dedicate himself "even more to prayer and meditation," which he will do in a secluded monastery being renovated for him on the grounds behind Vatican City's ancient walls.

"But this doesn't mean abandoning the church," he said, as many in the crowd looked sad at his departure from regular view. `'On the contrary, if God asks me, this is because I can continue to serve it (the church) with the same dedication and the same love which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suitable to my age and to my strength."

The phrase "tried to" was the pope's ad-libbed addition to his prepared text.

Benedict has one more public appearance, a Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square.

In addition to managing a new group of scandals, the pope is trying in his final days to speed up the selection of his replacement. He changed the rules of the conclave that will elect his successor, allowing cardinals to move up the start date if all of them arrive in Rome before the usual 15-day transition between pontificates.

Benedict signed a legal document, issued Monday, with some line-by-line changes to the 1996 Vatican law governing the election of a new pope. It is one of his last acts as pope before resigning Thursday.

The date of the conclave's start is important because Holy Week begins March 24, with Easter Sunday March 31. In order to have a new pope in place for the church's most solemn liturgical period, he would need to be installed by Sunday, March 17 - a tight timeframe if a conclave were to start March 15.

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