“God told me to climb the mountain” – Pope gives farewell speech

by Rachel Ogbu

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100,000 pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square to hear Benedict XVI’s emotional goodbye speech. There the Pope revealed that he is stepping aside because God told him to.

He said his resignation was ordained by God who had called on him to devote himself to prayer. He  said God had told him ‘to climb the mountain’.

He thanked catholics for their  closeness and affection and insisted he was ‘not abandoning the  church.’ Instead, he said he’ll serve the church with the  same dedication he has until now, but will do so ‘in a way more suitable to my  age and my strength’.

It was predicted that it was going to rain heavily in Rome at the time the Pope was to address  the people  and  some drizzle dampened the square earlier in the morning, but according to reports, as Pope Benedict  appeared, to the peal of church bells as the clock struck noon, blue sky crept  through the clouds.

‘We thank God for the sun he has given us,’  the Pope said.

The Daily Mail reports:

He also said he would continue to serve  through meditation and prayer after his historic abdication.

He completed the last Angelus of his  tenure  by saying he will always be close to the Church and its people.

A child in the crowd held up a sign on a  yellow placard, written in  Italian, ‘You are not alone, I’m with you’. Other  admirers held signs simply saying ‘Thank you’.

The 85-year-old will spend his last years in  seclusion in a cloistered monastery within the confines of Vatican  City.

The Pope officially steps down on Thursday.  He resigned two weeks ago, saying he no longer has the mental or physical  strength to lead the world’s 1.2billion Catholics. It is the first time a Pope  has stepped down in 600 years.

 

Vatican-watchers have speculated that his  declining health is a key factor.

It has subsequently emerged that the Pope had  had a secret heart operation to replace a pace-maker three months  ago.

The Pontiff also suffered a head wound during  an official visit to Mexico last year, which was said to have shaken  him.

Senior church figure Vincenzo Paglia, the  Bishop of Terni, has claimed the Pope’s memory had deteriorated and that he  suffered from occasional spells of lack of consciousness.

Other theories have placed Benedict at the  centre of a plot by a rebel faction of cardinals unhappy with his handling of  the sexual abuse crisis.

The Vatican earlier this week rubbished  Italian media reports alleging the pope’s  resignation was linked to a secret dossier claiming there is a ‘gay network’  inside the clergy.

Italian newspapers have been rife with  unsourced reports claiming the secret  dossier from three cardinals reveals an underground network of senior clergy who  have organised gay homosexual parties and faced  blackmail.

La Repubblica newspaper claimed the explosive  allegations were made in a report into the  so-called ‘Vatileaks’ scandal which  was presented to the Pontiff on or  around December 17.

But the Vatican accused Italian media of  spreading ‘false and damaging’  reports in an attempt to influence cardinals who  will meet  in a secret conclave next month to elect a new pope.

The Pope has just one more public appearance,  at his weekly audience on Wednesday.

No date has yet been set for the start of the  conclave of cardinals, who will vote in secret to elect Benedict’s successor.

One Italian in the crowd seemed to be doing a  little campaigning, hoisting a sign which mentioned the name of two Italian  cardinals considered by observers to be potential contenders in the selection of  the next pontiff.

The cardinals in the conclave will have to  decide whether it’s time to look outside of Europe for a pope.

Meanwhile Britain’s most senior Catholic  clergyman, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has been reported to the Vatican for  alleged inappropriate behaviour, it emerged last night.

Three priests and one former priest have sent  statements to the papal nuncio, Antonio Mennini, alleging impropriety dating  back to 1980.

As head of the Roman Catholic Church in  Scotland, next week O’Brien will be part  of the conclave choosing the next Pope,  but now he faces demands for his  immediate resignation.

As reported by The Observer, one of the  priests alleges that he has needed counselling after an inappropriate  relationship with O’Brien.

A second complainant  said that he was  18-years-old when O’Brien made an inappropriate approach after  night  prayers.

A third said he was invited to ‘get to know’  O’Brien at the archbishop’s  residence only to face ‘unwanted behaviour’ from  O’Brien after late-night drinking.

The four are all from the diocese of St  Andrews and Edinburgh.

A spokesman for the cardinal said that he  contests the allegations.

 

 

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