It was a solemn Pope Benedict XVI who celebrated his last Mass as Roman Catholic leader in St Peter’s Basilica, but spontaneous applause illustrated the emotion felt by the clergy and congregation.
Thanking everyone the pontiff quickly returned to the job in hand, Ash Wednesday prayers marking the Church’s season of Lent.
Benedict used his homily to again call for unity within the Vatican in barely disguised criticism of recent infighting among clerics.
The German pope urged the faithful to “show the face of the Church and how that face is sometimes disfigured”.
“I am thinking particularly about sins against the unity of the Church, about divisions in the body of the Church,” he said.
“Overcoming individualism and rivalry is a humble sign,” he added during his final public Mass.
Italian newspapers, whose Vatican watchers are weighing every word uttered by Benedict these days, seized on the terms
“disfigured face” and “rivalry” as what the Milan daily Corriere della Sera called “signals hurled at the conclave”.
The next few weeks will see major changes at the Vatican as former Vatican Press Office Director Joaquín Navarro-Valls explained: “For me Benedict XVI, has acted in a surprisingly courageous way. His decision was his own.
Navarro-Valls continued: “But what happens now? The situation is the same as with the death of a Pope. It forces what is technically called the period of the “Sede Vacante” when all those within the Curia, or Vatican administration, have to step down.”
During this period, the Holy See is administered by a regency of the College of Cardinals. After Benedict leaves at the end of this month Church leaders will begin the complicated process of choosing the next Pope.
It is believed the behind-the-scenes battle for the succession has already begun.
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Greek debt crisis is “absolute supremacy of capital over humans”
- 3[Live updates] NGO flotilla bids to break Israeli blockade of Gaza
- 4[LIVE UPDATES] Greek debt deadline looms
- 5Large Hadron Collider ready to embark on an unprecedented voyage of discovery
- 6Istanbul Gay pride quashed by riot police, rubber bullets and water cannon
- 7[LIVE UPDATES] France: man decapitated, several wounded in chemical plant attack
- 8Israel prepares to repel boarders as ‘Freedom Flotilla 3’ tries to run Gaza blockade
- 9Seven reasons why Yanis Varoufakis is now a political legend
- 10Greece votes ‘No’ in overwhelming rejection of bailout proposals
- 11NewsWires : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 12Greek debt summit – Live updates
- 13‘Distractingly sexy’ scientists hit back in lab chemistry polemic
- 14Greek debt: who will pay if Greece fails?
- 15Summit up in Brussels as Greek proposals give food for thought and rumours fly
- 16Battle of Waterloo, live-tweeting 200 years on
- 17Greek PM faces day of crucial bailout talks in Brussels
- 18Spain’s first case of diphtheria in 30 years: parents of six-year-old ‘oppose vaccines’
- 19Citizens take power in Spain’s largest cities as a political revolution sweeps the country
- 20Italy discovers biggest illegal waste dump in Europe
Wires > News
- 01:14 CET Ex-dictator found mentally unfit for new Guatemala genocide trial
- 00:43 CET Serbia government agrees to send PM to July 11 Srebrenica…
- 21:26 CET Two suicide bombers kill around 30 in northern Nigeria
- 21:02 CET Obama, Vietnam leader discuss South China Sea in landmark meeting
- 20:47 CET Eritrea sees U.N. scrutiny, migrant exodus as part of ‘conspiracy’
- 19:54 CET Gunmen storm national radio in Central African Republic
- 19:47 CET Homegrown jihadists with Libya ties target Tunisia’s democracy
- 19:22 CET Sierra Leone urged to ban FGM after backing women’s rights treaty