- Title: ITALY: Italians stunned by news of pope's resignation
- Date: 12th February 2013
- Summary: VATICAN CITY, VATICAN (FEBRUARY 11, 2013) (REUTERS) **NIGHT SHOTS** ST. PETER'S SQUARE PEOPLE POINTING AT POPE BENEDICT'S APARTMENT WINDOWS OF POPE BENEDICT'S APARTMENT OVER LOOKING ST. PETER'S SQUARE ST. PETER'S BASILICA ROME, ITALY (FEBRUARY 11, 2013) (REUTERS) PEOPLE IN STREET VARIOUS OF RESTAURANT WITH ITALIAN NEWS PROGRAMME ON TELEVISION VARIOUS OF DINERS WATCHING TELEVISION NEWS (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PENSIONER, ENRICO RUSSO, SAYING: "It's been around 500 years since another pope resigned, if I'm not mistaken. I hope that it's not because he's ill." VARIOUS OF CITY WORKERS STARTING TO BUILD SCAFFOLDING FOR MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) BUSINESSMAN, GIUSEPPE PERAZZO, SAYING: "I was shocked because I love the Pope, every Sunday I come here to listen to him and to be blessed by him, and to shout 'Long Live the Pope'. But to understand that he's only human -- unfortunately, it would have been worse tonight if the news had been the pope had died." VARIOUS OF CITY WORKERS BUILDING SCAFFOLDING FOR MEDIA
- Embargoed: 27th February 2013 12:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA4M8AN4OHR1ISKIUHKCB49Z7KZ
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- Story Text: Pope Benedict stunned the world on Monday (February 11) when he announced he would stand down in the first papal abdication in 700 years.
The pope said he no longer had the mental and physical strength to run the Church through a period of major crisis.
In Rome, the widespread mourning which greeted John Paul's death in 2005 appeared a distant memory but the news of Benedict's resignation overshadowed the campaign ahead of national elections due just days before the pope leaves office at the end of the month.
Many were worried about the state of the Pope's health.
"It's been around 500 years since another pope resigned, if I'm not mistaken. I hope that it's not because he's ill," said pensioner Enrico Russo.
Others were simply in shock but glad the pope was still alive.
"I was shocked because I love the Pope, every Sunday I come here to listen to him and to be blessed by him, and to shout - Long Live the Pope!," said Italian businessman Giuseppe Perazzo.
"It would have been worse tonight if the news had been the pope has died," Perazzo added.
Church officials tried to relay a climate of calm confidence in the running of a 2,000-year-old institution but the decision could lead to one of the most uncertain and unstable periods in centuries for a Church besieged by scandal and defections.
Workers were already out starting to build platforms for the media - indicating the complex machinery of the process to elect a new pope would move quickly because there would be no need to wait until after the elaborate funeral services for a pope.
A new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics could be elected as soon as Palm Sunday, on March 24, and be ready to take over by Easter a week later.
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