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Pope Benedict XVI’s final day in office: live blog

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his final public address at Castel Gandolfo. Photo: PA

19.00 Thanks, Pope Benedict, for your magnificent pontificate. We will miss you! – from the staff of The Catholic Herald: POPE FINALE

18.57 After 7pm, Pope Benedict XVI will be known as Pope Emeritus.

18.55 Scots Catholic tweets:

@ScotsCatholic #PopeBenedictXVI = love and humility #ThanksPontifex

18.54 Catholic News Agency tweets:

@cnalive Pope Benedict XVI chose the 8 p.m. resignation time because that is when he usually ends his workday.

18.45 There are only 15 minutes left of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. A very solemn moment in the history of the Church.

18.40 Lisa Wheeler tweets:

@AMDG Pope John Paul II brought me back to the faith of my baptism, Pope Benedict XVI taught me how to live it. #ThanksPontifex

18.27 Michael Lee tweets:

@GBHermit #ThanksPontifex for inspiring me to Come Home to the #CatholicChurch! God Bless you always #HolyFather!

18.25 There are 35 minutes left of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

18.21 You can watch the emotional video of Pope Benedict XVI leaving the Vatican here. You can also watch the Pope arriving at his new residence in Castel Gandolfo here.

18.19 Archdiocese of Dublin tweets:

@DublinDiocese AB Martin #PopeBenedictXVI ‘s love for the Church “rooted in his fundamental love for Jesus Christ ”

18.14 Edward Pentin, Vatican Correspondent, writes about “Benedict’s last Benediction.”

18.11 Fr Z has posted photos of Pope Benedict’s departure on his blog.

18.00 Dr Brian Kiczek tweets:

@DrBrianKiczek This is the first time in over 600 years that the Catholic Church can thank a Pope while still living! JOIN US! #Thankspontifex Retweet!

17.54 Jon Sopel tweets:

@BBCJonSopel Am wondering whether Vatican hired Richard Curtis to direct Pope’s departure film. Rome in all its beauty, sun shining, wonderful shots

17.46 Gregory Wolfe tweets:

@Gregory_Wolfe Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Well done. #ThanksPontifex

17.41 Watch the full video of Pope Benedict XVI’s departure here posted by Rocco Palmo.

17.37 Fr Robert Barron tweets:

@FrRobertBarron Watching the Holy Father’s departure was poignant beyond words. May the Lord bless and keep him and strengthen the Church.

17.33 Barb Fraze tweets:

@bfraze “When the #pope is here, even the air is more pleasant.” Mauro Giovannucci, #castelgandolfo resident #resign

17.25 Damian Thompson tweets:

@holysmoke Benedict XVI, 8pm, kicks off red shoes, lights Marlboro, says: “Thank God that’s over. What’s on telly?”

17.19 Lisa Wheeler tweets:

@AMDG: Interesting that this Pope who encouraged so broadly the use of social communications now retreats from all of it for the rest of his life

17.11 The full translation of Pope Benedict’s final words as Pope.

16.54 Let’s hope this Twitter user‘s teachers don’t mind:

@Sarahmarie630 I am glad I skipped school today. Watching the Pope give his final speech. Last time he will be seen for years. Crazy! #PopeBenedict

16.52 Caritas notes how strong Benedict XVI looked as he gave his final address:

@IamCARITAS Pope Benedict looked revitalised as he spoke. He must feel relieved to be able to have some private time after such busy days. I would be.

16.48 Pilgrim Claz tweets:

I feel like I have just received my own private blessing from St Peter! #Pope #TearsOfHope

16.40 Pope Benedict says he is “no longer the Pope, just a pilgrim on the final stage of his journey.” He adds: “We will go on together for the good of the Church and for the world.” He gives his last papal blessing. He then bids them goodnight. He returns inside.

16.38 Pope Benedict XVI is making his way out onto the balcony. He greets the crowd who erupt with cheers. He begins to speak in a clear voice.

16.35 The crowd is chanting “Benedetto! Benedetto!” A sign composed of silver balloons reads “Thank you, Benedict! We are all with you.”

16.33 Joyous crowds have gathered to greet the Pope in Castel Gandolfo for his last public address.

16.32 Pope Benedict XVI enters his new residence.

16.29 A convoy of black cars are driving through the beautiful scenery of Castel Gandolfo.

16.19 A lot of Catholics must be sharing this thought:

@patrickmadrid Try to imagine the profound sense of relief that #PopeBenedict is feeling right now, as he heads toward Castel Gandolfo. #ThankYouPontifex

16.16 The helicopter seems to be on its descent.

16.14 Pope Benedict XVI has just posted his last tweet:

@Pontifex Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.

16.12 Rocco Palmo tweets:

@roccopalmo After all these years, he finally got what he wished for so long – “to be released.” Be happy for him – Vergelt’s Gott, B16! #ThanksPontifex

16.08 The helicopter flies over Vatican City in a historic moment for the Catholic Church.

16.07 The helicopter is taking off. The bells of St Peter’s Basillica are ringing.

16.04 Pope Benedict XVI is now in the helicopter.

15.58 Benedict XVI is now being driven to the helicopter with a police escort.

15.56 Pope has just said goodbye to Cardinal Bertone and his papal household. Some are crying.

15.54 Pope Benedict XVI is now saying farewell to the staff of his papal household.

15.53 Swiss Guards now line up to greet Pope Benedict

15.52 The first image of the helicopter that will fly the Pope to Castel Gandolfo.

15.29 Cardinal Wuerl describes the spiritual experience of a conclave for the National Catholic Register and says that the next Pope will need to be able to fight secularism while being media savvy:

Great secularism is pervading the Church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel.

15.06 Rocco Palmo posts the front page of today’s historic edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

14.58 The Catholic News Service tweets

@CatholicNewsSvc Large pilgrimage up Via Aldo Moro in Castel Gandolfo. Up, up, up the hill to be in place to welcome pope!

14.29 John Allen explains why Pope Benedict quoted theologian Romano Guardini in his address to the cardinals this morning. Benedict XVI also alluded to Blessed John Henry Newman when he used the phrase “Cor ad cor loquitur” – his memorable motto of the 2010 Papal Visit to the UK.

14.20 Cardinal Timothy Dolan has told Today news that he regards Pope Benedict as “the daddy of the family.”

“I love him very much. He means the world. He’s like the daddy of the family, and to see this gentle, learned, loving, holy man, to see him very fragile, to see him having made what I consider a remarkably humble and courageous decision, it was very moving. It was a very tender moment.”

13.55 The brilliant Rocco Palmo, who blogs at Whispers in the Loggia, talked to National Public Radio in the US yesterday about the likelihood of Benedict XVI meeting his successor at Castel Gandolfo:

We’re going to have something the world has never seen. This Church, which has seen everything at least once, has never seen the picture of two popes, both of them in white. And that’s going to be a really incredible moment.

13.44 The BBC has a brief round-up of headlines from around the world. Best-selling German newspaper Bild had this on its front page: “We were the Pope for 2872 days.”

13.32 The Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi is briefing journalists. According to updates from the Catholic News Service, he has clarified that the Pope’s Fisherman’s Ring will not be smashed, just damaged so that it can no longer be used as a seal.

Other news:
• A second helicopter will follow the Pope’s own helicopter to Castel Gandolfo this afternoon to provide coverage for the Vatican Television Center.
• The last tweet from @Pontifex will be at 4pm GMT.
• Cardinals will not have a formal meeting tomorrow but will probably get together to talk and pray.

13.19 Vatican Radio has published the full text of the Pope’s address to cardinals. In it he compared the College of Cardinals to an orchestra, “where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord”. He said:

I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord. As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter’s Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry. In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky.

Benedict XVI also promised his “unconditional obedience” to the future pope.

12.19 We are taking a break, but will be back soon!

11.58 Earlier this morning Pope Benedict XVI said farewell individually to cardinals, heads of various Vatican departments and Mgr Guido Marini, the papal master of ceremonies. We liked this intriguing tweet from Catholic News Service.

Cardinal Tagle, whispering in pope’s ear, makes him laugh

11.43 Cardinal Roger Mahony, who is tweeting and blogging from Rome despite strong criticism of his decision to attend the conclave, has posted this update:

When I greeted the Pope I asked for his prayers for all of the people in the greater Los Angeles area. He grasped my hand and said “Yes”!!

11.20 Our Facebook page offers a sneak preview of our front page this week. “Like” us for regular updates of our coverage.

11.08 Benedict XVI pledged his allegiance to the next pope during his meeting with cardinals. RomeReports has a video.

11.01 Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, gave an address at the Pope’s meeting with cardinals this morning. Zenit has the full text here.

He said:

Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: “Were not our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way?”(Lk 24:32).

Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts, too, burned while we walked with you these past eight years.

10.52 Welcome to our live blog of Pope Benedict XVI’s final day in office.

Right now, Benedict XVI is holding his last meeting with cardinals in the Sala Clementine in the Vatican. The Telegraph has live footage of the meeting here.

Earlier the Pope met Ivan Gašparovič, president of the Slovak Republic, and told him: “I would have gone to Slovakia this year.” He also met the head of the Republic of San Marino, Teodoro Lonfernini, and the minister of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer.

Here is a run-down of what’s happening today.

This afternoon, at 3.45pm GMT, Benedict XVI will say goodbye to his number two Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, in the San Damaso courtyard and will be driven to a helipad for his flight to Castel Gandolfo.

At 4pm GMT, Benedict XVI will fly by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence south of Rome, where he will stay for two months.

At 5pm GMT, he will appear at a window overlooking the public square in Castel Gandolfo and bless the crowd of well wishers.

At 7pm GMT, the Pope’s retirement will officially begin. At this moment, Swiss Guards will close the main doors to the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s official residence, and withdraw from duty.