Pope Benedict will advise on successor ‘if asked’

Pope Benedict XVI in Rome in 2008. Picture: Getty
Pope Benedict XVI in Rome in 2008. Picture: Getty
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POPE Benedict XVI intends to stay out of the public eye following his historic retirement at the end of the month, but will be prepared to advise his successor if asked, his elder brother has revealed.

The 85-year-old is not expected to continue to write theological works for fear that they are seen as “interference” in the work of the next pope.

Instead, he will continue to reside in Vatican City, making his new home in a monastery.

The Vatican confirmed that although he had been fitted with a pacemaker several years ago his retirement was not the result of any specific illness.

His last general audience, scheduled for 27 February – the day before his resignation – has been moved from the Vatican’s audience hall, which has a capacity of 10,000, to St Peter’s Square, which can hold hundreds of thousands of people.

Amid speculation about who will become the next Catholic leader, one of the favourites to succeed Benedict, Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, said the time was right for a pontiff from the developing world.

Speaking from his home in Regensburg, the Pope’s brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, 89, said Benedict had no plans to move back to his German homeland, insisting that “you don’t transplant an old tree”.

Asked how his brother might work with his successor, he said: “It’s possible he [the new pope] may ask for advice. It’s quite likely they will talk. I don’t think he will write any new works.”

Rudolf Voderholzer, the bishop of Regensburg, who is also in charge of the Pope’s theological institute, which publishes his work, said that even if Benedict did write, no new works would be published during his lifetime.

“Anything he published could be conceived as interference in the work of the next pope,” Bishop Voderholzer explained.

A Vatican spokesman said Benedict would play no role in the election of his successor. Father Federico Lombardi said: “He will not interfere in any way.”

Meanwhile, the Vatican confirmed yesterday that after spending time at the papal summer retreat, Castel Goldolfo, south of Rome, the Pope would return to live in a monastery in the Vatican gardens, where Fr Lombardi said he would feel “much safer”.