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Pope's schedule for final week before resignation

Catholic World News - February 21, 2013

The Vatican has announced more detailed plans for the final activities of Pope Benedict XVI before his resignation takes effect on February 28.

At a February 21 briefing for reporters, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, noted that the Pope is currently making his annual Lenten Retreat with the Roman Curia, which will conclude on Saturday morning, February 23. During that time no papal audiences are scheduled.

At the conclusion of the Lenten Retreat, it is traditional for the Pope to speak to those who have been participating in the spiritual exercises. Later that day Pope Benedict will meet with Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano. On Sunday, February 24, the Holy Father will have the last Angelus audience.

Wednesday, February 27 will see the last public audience of this pontificate. Father Lombardi said that rather than returning directly to the apostolic palace after his remarks, the Pope will circle St. Peter’s square in the popemobile, to salute the enormous crowd that is expected for the occasion.

On February 28, the Pope will meet with all of the cardinals who are present in Rome to make his personal farewells, but will not deliver an address, Father Lombardi said. Dozens of cardinals from around the world are expected to gather in Rome for the Pope’s final day.

At 5 pm, just before his resignation formally takes effect, the Pope will leave the Vatican by helicopter, traveling to Castel Gandolfo. After a formal welcome from local officials, he will appear at the balcony of the apostolic palace to greet local residents.

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