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Pope Benedict XVI is saluted by Swiss guards as he leaves the Synod hall after a meeting with Cardinals and Bishops at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. The Pontiff is scheduled to name 22 new Cardinals in a Consistory, Saturday Feb. 18, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Benedict said Thursday he will soon begin a most unusual retirement and will be hidden to the world.
It was very emotional farewell from Roman Catholic priests for Benedict XVI. He met with priests, telling them, "Even though I am now retiring, I will always be near to all of you in prayer."
His remarks were viewed as "off the cuff" with Vatican watchers saying it was "more human" than they'd ever seen.
He recalled being chosen to speak when he was a young priest before Pope Jon the 23rd, saying he was afraid he’d say the wrong thing and be demoted.
The Pope admitted he didn’t have the strength for a big speech, calling Thursday's event "a little chat."
Some in the audience had tears in their eyes.
Separately, the Vatican confirmed Benedict was left with a gash to his head following a middle-of-the-night fall during a trip to Mexico last March.
The priests who attended Thursday’s meeting told reporters it was a powerful moment in church history. As one put it, "he has found peace within himself."
Benedict spoke of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the relationship between Catholics and Jews. He blamed botched media reporting of the Second Vatican Council’s deliberations for reducing the work to power struggles that developed. He told the priests he hoped "the true council" will one day be understood.
On Feb. 28, Benedict will leave Vatican City by helicopter at 5 p.m. (10 a.m. in Chicago) for Castel Gandolfo to become the first retired Pope in more than 600 years.
This report was originally published Feb. 14, 2013.