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German Catholics bid farewell to their pope

Published: 28 Feb 2013 14:49 GMT+01:00

For many of the German faithful, Thursday was a sad day. As Bavarian-born Pope Benedict XVI prepared to steps down as head of the Catholic Church at 8pm, many seemed unwilling to accept that Germany would no longer direct ties to the papacy.

Thousands of Bavarian Catholics had flocked to Rome over the previous few days to say goodbye to their pontiff - even taking a traditional Bavarian brass band along to pay tribute to him, according to public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

"We brought a banner with us that says, 'Bavaria is still the pope,'" Tobias Eichinger, a pilgrim from Nuremberg told the broadcaster - in reference to the “We Are Pope” headline in the Bild newspaper announcing the news of Joseph Ratzinger's appointment as pope in 2005.

"I mean, when you think that there are Catholics all over the world, and that the pope is from Bavaria?" said Eichinger's girlfriend Cornelia Engelhard.

Meanwhile, the German Catholic Church rallied behind Benedict XVI on his last day in office.

The pope would go down in history as a “theologian pope” and “one of the greatest preachers,” said Bishop of Regensburg Rudolf Voderholzer on Thursday afternoon.

Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Conference of Bishops, praised the pope for his “quiet goodbye.”

The pope has not left a farewell letter or given any hints as to who should replace him because “he in no way wants to influence his successor,” Zollitsch told ARD broadcaster on Thursday.

“That's his modest, reserved way,” he said.

Zollitsch said German bishops had not discussed individual names at their general assembly last weekend, and had concentrated instead on how the next pope would lead the global Church into the future.

On Thursday evening celebratory masses were planned to be held all over the country to mark end of Benedict's reign. Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to be among those attending a central service in Berlin's St. Hedwig's Cathedral.

Prayers are to be held in Regensburg, Bamberg, Munich, Freising, Würzburg and at Benedict's birthplace in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria.

The pope was expected to leave the Vatican at 5pm and fly by helicopter to the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. In April, the ex-pontiff plans to move into Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican, which is currently being renovated.

He has said he will withdraw completely from public life and dedicate the rest of his life to prayer.

DAPD/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:02 February 28, 2013 by heathen
bfd,,,all i ever wanted to know is: does the pope defecate in the woods?
16:51 February 28, 2013 by zeddriver
You'd think he IS GOD the way people are worshiping him. He should be admired for his service. I however think popes are put far to high on a pedestal. Which if one is a Christian is a rather dangerous thing. "according to the bible" You should worship GOD. Not the teacher.
17:28 February 28, 2013 by blackboot11
Good riddance !

as the seat of a religion not an actual country the vatican has NO place in the EU .
17:56 February 28, 2013 by mignargon
Yikes! Disgusting.
19:48 February 28, 2013 by M Australian
Is that golden robe covered in the blood of millions of AIDS victims from third world countries?

or is it the from the suicide of victims of child rape denied help & support & justice by his organisation?

or is it the high rate of suicide / murders of homosexuals ostracised by his organisation?
09:06 March 1, 2013 by Firmino
Disgusting. He should be in prison for his crimes.
13:13 March 1, 2013 by ichbines
You have to give him a little credit, he FINALLY did something smart!
13:41 March 1, 2013 by blackboot11
he quit before the news got out that he will be living with his long time boyfriend Georg Gänswein in their newly renovated 'monestary -

hideout' in vatican city...
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