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28 February 2013 | Religion

Pope Benedict XVI Steps Down Today

The Guardian, UK
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI will officially resign as the head of the Catholic Church by 8:pm local time today.

He is currently carrying out his last engagements in the Vatican after which he will fly to his temporary residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, according to the Guardian newspaper.

In his final audience at St Peter's Square in front of the Vatican yesterday he addressed a crowd of over 150,000 people, saying: "I have felt like St Peter with the spostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us … and the Lord seemed to be sleeping."

His resignation has been marred by a report allegedly presented to him on the day of his resignation which pointed to several secret factions within the Vatican, including one which the members were supposedly "united by sexual orientation", according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

From March 4 the Vatican's cardinals will start a series of secret ballots to choose Pope Benedict's successor. Cardinal Turkson from Ghana has been named as one of the cardinals who could replace the outgoing pope.

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