Pope's future influence still a question


Associated Press

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 3:34 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — New questions are arising about just how much influence Pope Benedict will exert over his successor after he steps down at the end of the month.

The Vatican is confirming that Benedict's closest adviser will continue to serve as his private secretary, even while also running the household of the new pope.

But a Vatican spokesman says the job with the new pope just involves organizing the pontiff's audience, and doesn't have any policy-making role in it.

It will be the first time in 600 years that the Catholic Church will have both a reigning pope and a retired one. The Vatican has said Benedict will devote himself entirely to a life of prayer.

During a farewell audience today with a few thousand priests who live and work in Rome, the pope said he would remain "hidden" to the world in retirement. It was the pope's only public appearance today -- and during that session, he delivered a 45-minute lucid and often funny monologue about the Second Vatican Council.

Also today, the Vatican confirmed that Benedict had hit his head on a sink during his trip to Mexico last year. But a spokesman says it wasn't "relevant" in the pope's decision to resign.

%@AP Links

193-a-13-(Father John Wauck (wahk), member of Opus Dei (OH'-puhs DAY'-ee) and professor at the Pontifical University of The Holy Cross, in AP interview)-"after the Council"-Father John Wauck, an Opus Dei priest and professor at Rome's Pontifical University of The Holy Cross, says Pope Benedict has been reflecting on his personal experience years ago when he attended the Second Vatican Council. (14 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *193 (02/14/13)>> 00:13 "after the Council"

195-r-12-(Sound of Pope Benedict XVI saying in Italian that he will continue to pray for the Church during his retirement, at annual meeting with Roman clerics)--Sound of Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in Italian at a meeting with several thousand priests living and studying in Rome, as he promises to continue praying for the Church. (14 Feb 2013)

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196-r-15-(Sound of audience applauding Pope Benedict XVI, at annual meeting with Roman clerics)--Sound of clerics in a standing ovation for Pope Benedict XVI in his annual meeting with priests living and studying in Rome. (14 Feb 2013)

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GRAPHICSBANK: Pope Benedict XVI holds the pastoral staff during the celebration of Ash Wednesday mass, St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, graphic element on gray (14 Feb 2013)

APPHOTO ALT125: Pope's personal Secretary Mons. Georg Ganswein looks at Pope Benedict XVI during an audience with Roman clergy in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday Feb. 14, 2013. The Vatican confirmed Thursday that Benedict's trusted private secretary, the 56-year-old Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, would remain as his secretary and live with Benedict in his retirement home in the Vatican gardens — as well as remain prefect of the new pope's household. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) (14 Feb 2013)

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APPHOTO ALT122: Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing before leaving after an audience with the Roman clergy in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday Feb. 14, 2013. Benedict XVI is continuing his farewell tour with an off-the-cuff meeting with Roman priests, an annual encounter that has taken on poignant new meaning with his impending resignation.The Vatican has said Benedict would reflect Thursday on his personal experiences as a young theological expert attending the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) (14 Feb 2013)

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