VATICAN CITY - The Clementine Hall is traditionally where cardinals gather to bid farewell to popes at the end of a pontificate, but usually it happens when the pope is lying in state before his funeral.

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VATICAN CITY - The last general audience in St. Peter's Square turned into a farewell party with balloons, flowers, flags, posters, cheers, standing ovations and a touching thank-you speech from Pope Benedict XVI.

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VATICAN CITY - In one of his last public appearances, Pope Benedict XVI told an overflow crowd in St. Peter's Square Feb. 24 that his upcoming retirement does not mean he is abandoning the church, but that he will be serving it in a new way, through prayer and meditation.

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VATICAN CITY - On his last full day as Pope, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an unusually personal and emotional farewell address, thanking the faithful around the world for their support and assuring them that he would remain in their service even in retirement.

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The following is the text from Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience at the Vatican Feb. 27.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI will continue to be known as Pope Benedict and addressed as "His Holiness," but after his resignation, he will add the title "emeritus" in one of two acceptable forms, either "Pope emeritus" or "Roman pontiff emeritus."

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VATICAN CITY - The Pope's @Pontifex Twitter fans will get two more tweets before the account goes into "hibernation" during the "sede vacante" period starting when Pope Benedict XVI steps down.

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Cardinal Ouellet high on many lists to succeed Benedict XVI

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VATICAN CITY - Wherever journalists and bookmakers may be getting the names on their lists of top candidates for the next pope, it’s not from the cardinals who will actually vote in the election. Both custom and canon law forbid the cardinals to discuss the matter in such detail with outsiders.

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VATICAN CITY - The voting by cardinals to elect the next pope takes place behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, following a highly detailed procedure that underwent major revisions by Blessed John Paul II and a small, but very significant change, by Pope Benedict XVI.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI is considering making some changes to the conclave rules and rituals before he leaves office Feb. 28, the Vatican spokesman confirmed.

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Pope Benedict XVI’s renunciation of the See of Peter has occasioned much commentary about how rare a papal resignation is. Many have said that it has been 600 years or 700 years, depending on how one counts. It is more radical than that. What the Holy Father did has never been done in the history of the Church. Ever.

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VATICAN CITY - In trying to help people understand how belief in God is a natural part of life and provides grounding for the values that protect human dignity and peaceful coexistence, Pope Benedict XVI saw Jews and Muslims as natural allies.

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TRIER, Germany - The president of the German bishops' conference has asked Pope Benedict XVI's forgiveness for "errors committed against him" in his homeland, adding that most Germans respect him as a "spiritual and intellectual authority."

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VATICAN CITY - When they are not in the Sistine Chapel, seated under Michelangelo's frescoes to vote for the next pope, the cardinal-electors will stay in a modern guesthouse that offers them both privacy and space to gather for relaxed conversation.

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