Pope Benedict XVI has entered his final hours as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope’s resignation will become effective at 8 p.m. Vatican City local time, kicking off the prospect of unexpected challenges and opportunities for the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict came clean Wednesday that his eight-year period as leader of the Roman Catholic Church had its hard moment when he assumed that “the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”
“There were also moments in which the waters were agitated and the wind contrary,” he said, according to The New York Times.
He travelled around St. Peter’s Square in the pope-mobile for the last time, giving his last waves to tens of thousands of applauding people. The outgoing pope appeared exhausted but calm as he expressed gratitude to believers for accepting his decision to step down for the good of the church.
"The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God's will and a deep love of Christ's Church," Benedict, 85, said to cheers in his last public words as pope, according to ABC News.
According to reports, at 5 p.m. a helicopter will fly the outgoing pope to his summer home, Castel Gandolfo, where he is likely to wave to believers and deliver a brief speech just before receiving the title of pope emeritus by 8:01 p.m.
It is pertinent to mention here that Benedict is the first pope to step down in 600 years. As his resignation becomes effective, many are curious whether a new pontiff will opt to take the church on a new course.
Reports suggest that the assembly to elect Benedict's substitute will hold a meeting sometime next month. Benedict has reportedly issued a ruling branded as a "motu poprio," which will empower cardinals to call together the assembly earlier than the March 15.
Regardless of the Vatican's assertions that Benedict will step away entirely from administration of the church, fresh concerns have sparked that the pope’s stepping down would infuse uncertainty in the Vatican and in the universal Catholic Church about his role and that of his replacement.