A white helicopter took the former Pope Benedict XVI, now known as pope emeritus, from the Vatican to Castelgandolfo where he will remain until his quarters are completely renovated at a monastery on the grounds of the Vatican, It is there that he will eventually retreat, after having made effective his resignation on February 28. Vatican staff applauded and bade him fair well as he walked with a group of cardinals to his waiting limousine. Some wept openly as they said goodbye to the man who has been leader of the world's Catholics for the last eight years.
Benedict XVI also met with the College of Cardinals in a gathering that was full of emotion. In all, 144 cardinals greeted the Pope personally. He swore absolute loyalty to the next Pope. He said, "Among you, in the College of Cardinals is the future Pope, to whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.”
Each one of the cardinals was able to exchange a few words with the Pope. Several of the younger ones made him smile, among them Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, and Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila. Benedict's assistant, Archbishop Georg Ganzwein, wept openly during the audience.
For others, who had worked with him closely or have known him for many years, the moment was very memorable, and the Pope thanked them for their work. Standing next to the Pope, his secretary Georg Gaenswein was unable to hold back tears. The meeting started off with a thank you greeting by Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano.
Cardinal Angelo Sodan, dean of the College of Cardinals told Benedict XVI, “We want to express to you all of our gratitude. Together, we repeat to you a typical expression from your native land, 'Vergel's Gott,' may God compensate you for what you've done.”
After personally greeting all the cardinals present, the Pope also said goodbye to members of the Curia, and also stopped for a group photo with the priests responsible for the papal liturgical ceremonies.