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Marco Werman: The other big story in Italy is the departing pope. Today Pope Benedict XVI held his final public audience in St. Peter's Square. He spoke to an adoring crowd of about 150,000. Tomorrow he officially retires and becomes Pope Emeritus. Then the process begins for the Catholic Church to choose a new pontiff. Reporter Jane Little covers religion. Jane, first of all, what did the pope say today? Anything revealing?
Jane Little: Well, it was a very unusually personal message when he really let us see into his eight years in the papacy. He talked about moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy, which is something of an understatement I'd say. He talked about the choppy waters but said that he knew all along that God was with him and that God would not let the boat sink. I think most people would read that as a comment on the series of clerical sex abuse crises and scandals that have rocked the Church, as well as the recent corruption and intrigue to come out of the Vatican.
Werman: So Jane, what happens now? Does the pope just say his goodbyes and then go away?
Little: Well, this was his last public audience. He will now say his farewells to the cardinals who have begun gathering in Rome to decide on his successor. So, he's saying his farewells, and then he takes off by helicopter tomorrow night for Castel Gandolfo, which traditionally is the papal summer residence not far from Rome. And then the Swiss Guard Ã¢â?¬" you know, the guys with the distinctive, stripy uniforms who've guarded the pope for so long Ã¢â?¬" they will formally be dismissed and be replaced by Vatican police, signaling to the world he's no longer the pope. There is now going to be a period, an interregnum, when we have no pope. But, of course, we're in very uncharted territories here, and that itself has been suggested by how long it took them to decide how this pope would be called. It's taken over two weeks for them to announce that he wouldn't go back to being Cardinal Ratzinger. He would be the Pope Emeritus and retain the title of Benedict XVI.
Werman: Does he get, like, one Swiss Guard for the rest of his life, kind of thing?
Little: No, I'm afraid he has to give up the Swiss Guard completely. However, he is going to retain, along with the title, he will retain His Holiness. He will continue to wear a white cassock. There had been much speculation about what he would be wearing. We really haven't been in this territory for 600 years. A cassock is the white priestly rope, floor length usually or just above the shoe. His gold ring, his fisherman's ring, will be removed from him, and the Papal Seal will be destroyed at a time of the cardinals' choosing because when a pope dies, traditionally, he has the ring removed and the seal destroyed so there can be no risk of forgeries. He will give up that ring, and also crucially, he will give up the red shoes. It's long been said that the pope wears Prada. He's always been seen in these shiny, beautiful red shoes. The shoes will go and be replaced by handmade brown shoes from Mexico.
Werman: I imagine there are tons of rituals, like when he has to hand back the hat.
Little: Well, I guess the key moment will be when the ring goes. And it's crucial that he's being seen to go through these rituals because it had been much speculated upon, where's he going to live? He will go to Castel Gandolfo for about three months, and then he will return to renovated apartments within a monastery within Vatican City. Now, some have said, Ã¢â?¬Å?Yep, that's good for security, and he will retain some privacy there.Ã¢â?¬ On the other hand others are saying, Ã¢â?¬Å?Well, is it good to have two popes in the Vatican?
Werman: Is it good to have two popes in the Vatican?
Little: Well, you know, on a symbolic level, no, but I suppose this would be the most practical solution. He's underlined that fact that he's not giving up his ministry. This is a new stage of it where he'll pray for the Church and meditate and also, I suspect, write. This is an intellectual, a philosopher theologian who reads and writes. Another question will be whether he will publish because everybody will be parsing everything he says for if there are any, even slight, contradictions with what his successor is saying, so maybe he'll write. Maybe he'll publish posthumously.
Werman: So, as a private citizen will he be paying rent on that apartment, or does the Vatican cover it for him?
Little: I think they have a fairly decent retirement package for priests, and I think he'll be well taken care of.
Werman: Reporter Jane Little, who covers religion. Thank you very much for your time.
Little: Thank you, Marco.