Ex-pope Benedict in rare public appearance at cardinals ceremony

Agence France-Presse

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Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who had sworn to remain "hidden from the world", sat at the front row of St. Peter's Basilica for the ceremony to create 19 new cardinals

RARE APPEARANCE. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (C-R) is greeted by cardinals at the consistory in the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on February 22, 2014. Pope Francis will create his first batch of cardinals, with nine of the 19 coming from South America, Africa and Asia. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

VATICAN CITY – Former pope Benedict XVI, who retired last year, made a rare public appearance on Saturday, February 22, at a ceremony led by his successor Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica to appoint new cardinals.

Benedict, who lives in a monastery inside the Vatican walls and had sworn to remain “hidden from the world,” joined the cardinals in the front row of the basilica for the ceremony to create 19 new “princes of the Church.”

The elderly former pontiff, 86, seemed cheerful as he sat cloaked in his white papal garments in the midst of the red-robed cardinals, who have been selected by Francis to join the elite group responsible for electing future popes.

It is extremely rare to see the pope and former pope in the same location, and it is the first time Joseph Ratzinger – who shocked the world in February last year by announcing his retirement as head of the Catholic Church – has participated at a public ceremony in the basilica. (READ: Pope Benedict XVI’s final speech: ‘God won’t let boat sink’)

The new cardinals will be presented with scarlet-red birettas and gold rings at a grandiose ceremony led by the first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, who took over the reins from Benedict on March 13. – Rappler.com

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