News / Europe

Pope Benedict Leads Last Ash Wednesday Mass

Pope Benedict XVI opens his arms in greetings as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican, February 13, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI opens his arms in greetings as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican, February 13, 2013.
Al Pessin
Thousands of people crowded into St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican as Pope Benedict XVI led his last scheduled mass, and hundreds more gathered around large television screens in the square outside.
A choir sang as the 85-year-old pontiff entered the church, walking on his own, his first public appearance since announcing his resignation earlier this week. Looking somewhat frail in his ceremonial purple robe, he boarded a moving platform to travel down the long center aisle as some Roman Catholic cardinals, one of whom may replace him as pope next month, formed a procession behind him.
His voice raspy but clear, Pope Benedict offered his thanks to everyone who had helped him during his papacy.

Pope Benedict Bio

  • Became one of the oldest new popes when elected in 2005 at age of 78
  • Headed Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming pope
  • Named Cardinal of Munich in 1977
  • Taught at several universities from 1959 to 1966
  • Joined the Hitler Youth in 1941 when it became compulsory for all German boys
  • Born Joseph Ratzinger in 1927 in Bavaria's Marktl am Inn, son of a police officer
He received long rounds of applause at the beginning and end of the service. His chief assistant spoke briefly, saying there was “a veil of sadness” over the service, and thanking the pope for being what he called a “simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”
That was what Pope Benedict had promised to do on the day he was elected pope eight years ago.

The pope led the Ash Wednesday mass two days after he announced his resignation, saying age and physical frailty were preventing him from fulfilling his obligations as he would like to. The Vatican had publicly acknowledged for the first time that the pope, a German formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has a pacemaker.
It is the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years, and many people did not even know it was possible.
Report by Al Pessin from Vatican City
Report by Al Pessin from Vatican Cityi
|| 0:00:00

The pope will hold a final public audience on the balcony at St. Peter's Square on February 27, and will retire the next day.
About two weeks later, Roman Catholic cardinals will convene to choose his successor. Officials say the new pope is expected to be named by Easter, March 31, and that Pope Benedict will play no role in the selection.
A man's story
The chief of Vatican Radio's English Section, Sean-Patrick Lovett, says the pope's resignation “redefines the papacy,” focusing on the human rather than the divine-connection element.
“This is not a pope story, this is a man's story, Lovett said.” This is an old man, who is nearly 86, with a sense of responsibility looking at who he is relation to the office that he holds and saying, 'I have to be honest, I cannot do this anymore.'”
Lovett says the move sets a standard for future popes, but does not necessarily signal any major policy changes will come under the new pope.
“The Catholic Church is not about change, it is not a democracy," he said. "It is about continuity, and doctrine is very unlikely to change no matter who becomes pope.”
There is lots of speculation on who that might be, particularly whether it might be someone from Africa or Latin America, which, combined, are home to more than half the world's Catholics. But Lovett says the same speculation was heard during the past 35 years for each of the three papal transitions he has covered.
Pope Benedict's rule has been concerned with the church's child sex abuse scandal that began long before he ascended to the papacy. Last year, his butler was found to be the source of leaked documents alleging corruption in the Vatican's business dealings. Pope Benedict also has been criticized for inflexibility on church dogmas.
In contrast, Pope Benedict has received praise for instituting a financial watchdog for the Vatican's financial dealings and becoming the first pope to communicate with followers via social media.

Papal contenders


You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: NVO from: USA
February 13, 2013 7:08 PM
Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday? Since the Bible nowhere explicitly commands or condemns such a practice, Christians are at liberty to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday.

If a Christian decides to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent, it is important to have a biblical perspective. Jesus warned us against making a show of our fasting: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18). We must not allow spiritual discipline to become spiritual pride.

It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities, but that’s something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. It’s a good thing to clearly identify oneself as a Christian, but, again, this should be an everyday identification. And it is good to remember that no ritual can make one’s heart right with God.

by: NVO from: USA
February 13, 2013 12:21 PM
What catholics are DUPED about and what the catholic church does not want anyone to know is the prophesy of Malachi Martin, and what Bishop Sheen had to say about the NEXT pope after Ratzinger, YES, the NEXT POPE!!! Father Connor, you probably know him, said that the catholic church under the heading of
"sacred tradition" teaches that the final pope will defect from the faith! Now here is what Bishop Sheen said. "The false prophet will have a religion without a cross, a religion without a world to come, a religion to destroy religions. There will be a counter church, Christs church will be one, and the false prophet will create the other. The false church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches and religions forming some type of global association. A world parliament of churches, it will be emptied of all divine content and will be the mystical body of the anti-Christ. The mystical body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from among OUR Bishops! The false prophet will be a bishop, and like Judas, he will sell the mystical body to the anti-Christ".-

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1950)

by: andy from: al
February 13, 2013 11:08 AM
The pope needs to trust in Jesus alone for his salvation. Not his religion or he will burn in hell.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs