February 24, 2013
Pope Delivers Final Angelus
The Vatican is expecting thousands of people to attend Pope Benedict's last public Sunday prayers, as cardinals begin arriving in Rome to elect his successor and the Vatican battles unsavory media reports.
Benedict will read out his traditional Angelus prayer and messages to Catholic faithful in different languages from the window of his apartment high above the crowd in St. Peter's Square. The pope will hold his final general audience in St. Peter's on Wednesday.
The Vatican has criticized the media for adding what it called defamatory "pressures" on cardinals ahead of the election.
The Vatican secretariat of state said Saturday that the "widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories" is "deplorable" and causes serious damage to people and institutions.
Italian newspapers recently have put out unsourced reports about the contents of a secret dossier prepared for the pope that was linked to the 2012 scandal over leaked Vatican documents.
Pope Benedict, leader of the world's Roman Catholics, announced earlier this month that he was resigning for health reasons. He is the first pope to step aside in hundreds of years.
Current rules call for the cardinals who elect the pope to meet on March 15, which is 15 days after Benedict formally steps down.
Benedict is 85 years old. He was elected pope in 2005 to replace the late John Paul the Second.