By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Pope Benedict XVI greets crowd from window at Castel Gandolfo after leaving the Vatican, Castelgandolfo, Italy.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -
In the final moments of Benedict XVI's papacy, the church bells began ringing.
It was 8 p.m. in the Italian hill town of Castel Gandolfo, 8 p.m. in the Vatican, 8 p.m. across Italy - the chosen time on the chosen day that the one who was chosen decided to retire.
Both Swiss Guards flanked the elegant 20-foot doorway leading into the papal palace in the town. One of them saluted an official. From the crowd, about 100 well-wishers who braved the freezing temperatures with their children and their dogs, shouts rang out:
"Long live the pope!"
With precise movements, the guards marched into the palace. The massive wooden doors began closing shut, first one side, then the other. The crowd was applauding, sighing, shivering.
And with the click of a lock, Pope Benedict XVI's eight-year reign as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics came to an end.
Special festivities were held across the world to mark the unprecedented day, including several in the Kansas City area. A special mass was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and bells rang.
"Let us send out prayers for Pope Benedict and his retirement," said Bishop Robert Finn of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. "We celebrated mass and thanksgiving for the tremendous work and gift and grace that Pope Benedict XVI has been to the church."
The day was a bittersweet one. While parishioners were emotional about the departure, they are also excited about the future. And Benedict's departure wasn't flavored with the usual outpouring of emotions following the death of a beloved pontiff.
"It's a new change. A new direction for the church to go," said Tom Westerman. "It's something to look forward to."
Ested Bstabilla also looks forward to change.
"There's always change, but I'm sure the change will be for the better of the Catholic Church so I'm pretty excited about it," he said.
Judy Koster said she hopes the Holy Spirit will guide the faithful and the cardinals in conclave as they select the next pontiff.
Before becoming pope emeritus, Benedict sent out a final tweet.
"Thank you for your love and support," he wrote. "May you always experience the joy that comes putting Christ at the centre of your lives."
Benedict will be remembered as a scholarly man who emphasized writings and teachings.
Father Brian Johnson on Redemptionist Catholic Church said the former pope was at heart a teacher.
"I think he brought a new kind of commitment to that type of learning and study," he said.
The cardinals are expected to begin meeting next week to select the next pope.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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