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Pope hints at living in seclusion

Secretary of defence nominee Chuck Hagel.

Secretary of defence nominee Chuck Hagel.

VATICAN — The outgoing head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has hinted he will withdraw into seclusion after stepping down at the end of this month.

“Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you… even if I remain hidden to the world,” he told a meeting of Roman priests.

The pontiff, 85, shocked the world’s biggest Christian Church on Monday when he announced his resignation.

He cited his advanced age as the reason for resigning.

The Pope appears to be planning a complete retreat from the public eye.

However, he is expected to spend his retirement in a monastery at the Vatican and his relationship with his successor as pope is bound to be an endless source of speculation.

A new pope is expected to be elected by cardinals before Easter, which falls on March 31.

Pope Benedict made his remarks at the Vatican in what amounted to a farewell address to hundreds of priests who serve in the Diocese of Rome, our correspondent says.

He appealed to the spirit of the reformist Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

“We must work for the realisation of the real council and for a real renewal of the Church,” he said.

Speaking earlier, some of the unnamed priests gave their reaction to the pontiff’s decision to resign.

“People are divided, some say that he was right in doing so, since he did not feel able to continue any longer, others on the contrary feel dejected,” said one.

“As for me, I am grieved and I hope and I pray for Benedict XVI, hoping that the Church again finds strength.”

“It was certainly a surprise for everybody,” said another. (BBC)

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