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Pope Benedict XVI Ends Reign Amidst ‘Difficult Times’

February 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

JEFFREY BROWN: The papacy of Benedict XVI officially ended today, as he became the first pontiff in modern times to resign. On his last day, he spoke with the cardinals who will now turn to choosing his successor, amid continuing scandals and tensions within the Vatican and wider church.

We begin with our coverage with this report from James Mates of Independent Television News.

JAMES MATES: Looking a little frail, weary almost under the burdens of a tumultuous eight years in the Holy See, Pope Benedict met his cardinals for a final time.

In the magnificent surroundings of the Vatican’s Clementine room, he thanked them and recognized that one of those now applauding will soon be in his place.

“Among you,” he said, “there is the future pope to whom already today I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.” He said a personal farewell to each cardinal, among them Peter Turkson of Ghana, who many believe may be the first black pope in more than 1,000 years. But Pope Benedict’s speech yesterday, his hints at trouble within the Vatican itself, has spelled out the task faced by his successor.

REV. VINCENT NICHOLS, Archbishop of Westminster: It was a very un-papal address. I would think it’s probably one of the most remarkable papal addresses ever given, certainly that I have ever heard.

JAMES MATES: Was he hinting at a real power struggle going on in there?

VINCENT NICHOLS: It would seem to be the popular opinion that there have been difficult times around him in his administration, and that has certainly been spoken of openly as a challenge for next pope.

JAMES MATES: That is what he is leaving behind, the Papal Swiss guard overseeing his final departure from office, as he headed for a helicopter and retirement.

And so for first time in almost 600 years, a living pope takes his leave from the Vatican. He has promised to spend his remaining days in reflection and prayer. It is possible we will never hear from him again.

A final view of Rome and the Coliseum in the evening sunshine, and then to the Castel Gandolfo in the hills south of the city where he will officially take leave of his office.