Pope Benedict to be called 'pope emeritus'

Vatican City, Feb 27 (IANS) Pope Benedict XVI will be called "pope emeritus" or "Roman pontiff emeritus" when he steps down as the head of the Catholic Church Thursday, a Vatican spokesperson has said.

It will still be possible to address Benedict as "Your Holiness", Xinhua quoted Father Federico Lombardi as adding Tuesday.

The 85-year-old German would continue to wear the "simple, white" papal cassock and use shoes given to him by Mexican cobblers during a visit last year, the spokesperson said. "The pope really liked the gift of the shoes made for him by the artisans of Leon, Mexico, and he will continue to use them."

The Vatican official told media that Benedict's ring of office as pope will be destroyed, according to Vatican tradition. And his papers have been split between documents regarding the government of the Church, "which will go to the competent archives", but he will keep his personal notes, Lombardi added.

On Sunday, over 200,000 people gathered at St. Peter's Square here to listen to Pope Benedict XVI's final public blessing before his retirement.

"The Lord is calling me to 'climb the mountain', to devote myself to prayer and meditation," the pope told the crowd as he appeared at the window of his apartment overlooking the square.

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world earlier this month with the announcement that he would step down as head of the Catholic Church Feb 28 due to old age and failing health.

-- Indo-Asian News Service

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