Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Pope Benedict to Earn U.S.$3,340 Retirement Benefit Per Month

Pope Benedict XVI who announced his resignation from office with effect from February 28 will be paid a pension of 2,500 euros a month, or about $3,340 according to several Italian media outlets, which quoted the amount of the pension usually paid to bishops.

The head of the Catholic Church does not officially have an income and doesn't really get paid, the Vatican has said repeatedly in response to inquiries from the press over the years, adding that "he has his every need provided for by the Holy See".

The Italian press however said, "but we know what Benedict will make once he relinquishes the papacy on Feb. 28. He will be paid a pension of 2,500 euros a month, or about $3,340.

There is no precedent for a papal pension. The last one to resign was in 1415; everybody else died in office but there are cases of retired bishops, and the pope is officially also the bishop of Rome.

The Vatican press office did not confirm the amount, but a spokesperson said that the pope's needs, as well as those of whatever staff he might choose to retain in the Vatican monastery he is retiring to, "will be met."

The 86-year-old Joseph Ratzinger plans to live out his days in prayer and meditation at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery. But first, he will spend the initial months after his abdication at the Castel Gandolfo papal residence, outside of Rome, as the monastery undergoes renewals.

He will not bring much with him from his eight years as pope, except for some books, letters, his piano and personal objects, according to a report by Italian site TGcom. His vast library and notes will be kept in the Vatican but will not be available to the public. Ratzinger himself will need to make a formal request with the Vatican library in order to consult them.

As for what the pope will do in the final days of his pontificate, they are going to be a preview of the rest of his life. The Vatican said he plans to spend most of this week in meditation, until Saturday, accompanied by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, a department that focuses on fostering the relationship of the Catholic Church with different cultures.

Pope's resignation deepens doubt, despondency for Italians

Meanwhile nine days after the Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from office, over his failing health, controversy had continued to trail the event.

Pope Benedict's shock resignation is said to have robbed Italians of the one element of certainty in a time of deep doubt, with the country beset by graft scandals and heading for an election that will not bring the radical change so many crave.

The pontiff is believed to be the one stable element for Roman Catholic Italians in a modern state that has become a byword for political instability and flawed politicians. All that changed since Benedict announced he would be the first pontiff in 700 years to resign, causing alarm and despondency among many faithful in a country whose history has been shaped by the presence of the headquarters of the Church for 2,000 years.

"We are in a moment of social, ideological and cultural crisis and in a moment like that it is completely wrong for him to leave," said Emanuele Vitale, 22, a Sicilian student who joined around 100,000 people packed into St. Peter's Square on Sunday for one of Benedict's last appearances before his resignation on February 28.

Another person in the square, pensioner Antonio Mingrone, 68, said: "It is unsettling. At a time when there are all these political conflicts and an economic crisis, it is one more thing weighing on our minds."

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, himself a devout Catholic, referred to the "disorientation" of Italians over the pope's decision. "It seems like an epoch is changing on both sides of the Tiber and we feel robbed of points of reference."

Massimo Franco, a leading Italian political commentator and author of several books on the Vatican, told Reuters: "The resignation adds instability to instability. The Church which was a source of stability is now a major source of instability.

"Today the Vatican is a sort of mirror of Italy," Franco said. "Before, it was the opposite. Now there is a chaotic Italy and chaotic Vatican."

Italians will vote next Sunday and Monday in an election whose outcome is still unpredictable at a time when the country desperately needs firm and decisive government to address a major recession, stagnant growth and soaring unemployment.

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