Updated 02/28/13 – 1:55 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Pope Benedict XVI ended his eight-year pontificate of the Catholic Church on Thursday, becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, after meeting with cardinals Thursday morning, Benedict was flown by helicopter to the town of Castel Gandolfo, just south of Rome, where he will officially resigned as the head of the Catholic Church.
In his final meeting with cardinals, Benedict promised obedience to his successor. He also prayed that the cardinals are shown the right way in picking a new pope.
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George got only about 15 seconds to speak to the pope one-on-one at the meeting, but said he felt he had enough time to bid Benedict farewell.
“This is not a time to have a long conversation, is it? So I know he was always being thanked for his great magisterium, for his witness. I thanked him for his friendship,” he said. “This is a time to say farewell – and he knows that we’re grateful – and to move along.”
Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, with the Pontifical North American College in Rome, said cardinals are in “a completely new situation,” in that for the first time in centuries, a pope is stepping down and soon will be answering to a new pontiff.
“He will have a superior, the new Holy Father, and he’s saying ‘I will be available for advice, but I will always be under your authority in any decisions you make,’” Figueiredo said. “I think it was a wonderful, humble, gracious gesture.”
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports Benedict’s resignation was in the thoughts and prayers of many Catholics in Chicago on Thursday.
At the morning mass at Holy Name Cathedral, parishioners offered prayers for Benedict’s health and intentions as he steps down, and for guidance for the cardinals who will vote for his successor.
Nothing looked out of the ordinary for parishioners attending the 7 a.m. mass, but it felt different.