Pope Benedict XVI's eight years as head of the Catholic Church have been exhausting ones, with the pontiff citing in his resignation statement that his departure was down to the nature of "today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance."

From child sex abuse scandals to the "Vatileaks" controversy involving his former butler, here are the seven biggest controversies of during the Pope's time in the Vatican.

pope benedict

Pope Benedict XVI waving as he leaves Paul VI hall after attending a concert


1. His time in the Hitler Youth

Born in Bavaria, Germany, into a family of farmers, the Pope's time in the Hitler Youth, which he joined at the age of 14, was swiftly highlighted by the media after his appointment.

He was drafted in an anti-aircraft unit in Munich as he was studying in Traunstein seminary, but he deserted towards the end of the war, and was a prisoner-of-war in 1945.

Many of his supporters have pointed out that the Pope would never have had any choice about joining the Nazi movement.

In the 1996 book “Salt of the Earth”, the Pope is quoted as saying: “At first we weren’t, but when the compulsory Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother was obliged to join. I was still too young, but later, as a seminarian, I was registered in the HY. As soon as I was out of the seminary I never went back.”

2. The Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse Scandal

In 2005, when Pope Benedict succeeded Pope John Paul II, the church was engulfed in the priest child sex abuse scandal and damaging claims that local dioceses were complicit in their cover-up.

Shortly before his election in 2005, he spoke out about the scandal at Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum, saying: "How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him!"

It was the dominent news story about the Catholic church from 2009-10. Victims of sex abuse came forward in Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and the US.

Thousands of people signed a petition on Downing Street's website against the pope's four-day visit to England and Scotland in September 2009, launched by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Before his election, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, he headed the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition. That led to the nickname "God's Rottweiler", and he led on many investigations into child abuse.

The Pope, unlike many other Catholic leaders, never blamed an "anti-Catholic" conspiracy for the coverage, but said that it was the church's responsibility.

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Pope Benedict XVI, right, arrives with his then-butler Paolo Gabriele, bottom

3. Vatileaks

The "VatiLeaks" scandal involved a former papal butler, who leaked hundreds of Catholic documents andclaimed that more than 20 whistleblowers were involved in the operation which attempted to prove corruption, power struggles and incompetence at the highest levels at the Holy See.

Paolo Gabriele has previously claimed he was acting out of love for the church, but said in the interview that people were afraid to speak out from inside the city walls: "Ours is a state where you can get in, kill and leave undisturbed, and after 24 hours no one can say what happened."

Gabriele, who would ride at the head of the 'Popemobile', started as a humble cleaner in the Vatican and rose to become the Pope's personal butler.

The Pope said the rumours had deeply troubled him. "The events of recent days about the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness in my heart.

"I want to renew my trust in and encouragement of my closest collaborators and all those who every day, with loyalty and a spirit of sacrifice and in silence, help me fulfill my ministry.

In December, he visited Gabriele, forgave him, and pardoned him for his crime

4. Relationship with Jews

In 2008, the Pope angered the Jewish community by promoting a new version of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews "to be delivered from darkness".

The version read: "Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men."

He also caused a storm of controversy by reversing the excommunication of four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X. One of them was Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier who has been prosecuted in Germany.

5. Apology to Muslims

The Pope sparked a row with Muslim leaders after a speech he gave to university professors during a visit to Germany, where he referred to a Byzantine texts which called the teachings of Mohammed "evil and inhuman".

He expressed deep regret at the upset, saying" "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

Mahmoud Ashour, the former deputy of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Arab world’s most powerful institution, told Al-Arabiya TV immediately after the pope’s speech that, “It is not enough. He should apologise because he insulted the beliefs of Islam. He must apologize in a frank way and say he made a mistake.”

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A Benetton clothing store window covered by posters showing the pope Benedict XVI kissing on the lips Egypt's Ahmed el Tayyeb

6. The Bennetton Kissing Posters

In 2011, the Vatican threatened legal action to prevent further distribution or of a photoshopped image of the pope kissing Mohammed Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand sheikh of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, used as part of an advertising campaign for Benetton. The sheikh's mosque was one of the key critics of the Pope's anti-Muslim reference in 2006.

The advert appeared in various locations across Italy before it was removed.


7. His "Prada" slippers

A rumour circulated shortly after the Pope ascended to the office that he had replaced Pope John Paul II scuffed red leather slippers with new Prada ones. A senior Vatican official says the loafers were actually made by the pope's personal cobbler.

SEE ALSO

Pope Benedict XVI To Resign February 28, Vatican Says

Pontiff's Final Tweet Before Making Announcement

The Pope's Statement In Full

Pope Benedict XVI: His Papacy In Pictures

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  • Benedict XVI

    RECROP OF VAT114 - In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Mons. Franco Comaldo, a pope aide, left, looks at Pope Benedict XVI as he reads a document in Latin where he announces his resignation, during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign Feb. 28 - the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

  • Benedict XVI

    In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, center, reads a document in Latin where he announces his resignation, during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign Feb. 28 - the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

  • Britain's Prince Philip (L) watches as h

    Britain's Prince Philip (L) watches as his wife Queen Elizabeth talks with Pope Benedict XVI during an exchange of gifts in the Morning Drawing Room, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 16, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI urged all parties involved in Northern Ireland to work for a 'just and lasting peace' in his first speech of an historic state visit to Britain on Thursday. AFP PHOTO / DAVID CHESKIN / POOL (Photo credit should read DAVID CHESKIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI receives a picture fro

    Pope Benedict XVI receives a picture from US President George W. Bush during a tete-a-tete in the medieval St John's Tower in the Vatican Gardens on June 13, 2008. US President George W. Bush had a special audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who was returning the hospitality he enjoyed at the White House in April. AFP PHOTO / Filippo Monteforte (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this photo released by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, seated in his studio at the Vatican City, uses an iPad device to light up one of the world's largest electronic Christmas trees in Gubbio, central Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • Madeleine McCanns Parents Visit The Pope

    VATICAN CITY - MAY 30: Pope Benedict XVI meets Gerry and Kate McCann during his weekly audience at St. Peter's Square, May 30, 2007 in Vatican City. The parents of four-year-old Madeleine McCann discussed the plight of their daughter, who vanished 27 days ago whilst holidaying in Portugal. (Photo by Arturo Mari L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

  • The Pope Meets With President Obama

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JULY 10: US President Barack Obama (L) meets with Pope Benedict XVI in his library at the Vatican on July 10, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. Obama was meeting with The Pope for the first time as President following the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • The Pope Meets With President Obama

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JULY 10: US President Barack Obama (L) and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict XVI in his library at the Vatican on July 10, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. Obama was meeting with The Pope for the first time as President following the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • In this photo released by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, seated in his studio at the Vatican City, uses an iPad device to light up one of the world's largest electronic Christmas tree in Gubbio, central Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE-INTERNET-TWITTER

    Pope Benedict XVI clicks on a tablet to send his first twitter message during his weekly general audience on December 12, 2012 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI sent his first Twitter message from a digital tablet on Wednesday using the handle @pontifex, blessing his hundreds of thousands of new Internet followers. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Tony Blair Meets With Pope Benedict XVI

    VATICAN CITY - JUNE 23: Pope Benedict XVI meets outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair in a private audience at his library, on June 23, 2007 in Vatican City. (Photo by L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • Tony Blair Meets With Pope Benedict XVI

    VATICAN CITY - JUNE 23: Pope Benedict XVI meets outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair in a private audience at his library, on June 23, 2007 in Vatican City. (Photo by L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • Tony Blair Meets With Pope Benedict XVI

    VATICAN CITY - JUNE 23: Pope Benedict XVI meets outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair in a private audience at his library, on June 23, 2007 in Vatican City. (Photo by L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • In this photo released by Cubadebate, Pope Benedict XVI, right, meets with Cuba's Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday March 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Cubadebate)

  • Pope Benedict XVI Makes First Visit To Cuba

    HAVANA, CUBA - MARCH 29: Pope Benedict XVI meets with former Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) at the Vatican embassy on March 29, 2012 in Havana, Cuba. The Pope is finishing up his first trip to Cuba, fourteen years after Pope John Paul II visited the communist country. (Photo by L'Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images)

  • VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE-FILES

    (FILES) This recent file picture taken on February 6, 2013 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican shows Pope Benedict XVI arriving for the weekly general audience. The Vatican spokesman announced that Pope says he will resign on February 28. AFP PHOTO / FILES / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

    Pope Benedict XVI (R) and his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein arrive for the weekly general audience on February 06, 2013 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Benedict XVI

    Pope Benedict XVI gets up after kneeling for a prayer during his visit at the Roman seminary, in Rome Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • VATICAN-POPE-CONCERT

    RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS Italy's president Giorgio Napolitano (2nd R) sits flanked by Pope Benedict XVI (C) at a concert by the Orchestra del Maggio Fiorentino, directed by Indian conductor Zubin Metha, to celebrate the 84th Lateran pact's anniversary on February 4, 2013, at the Sala Nervi in Vatican city. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO' (Photo credit should read OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this photo provided by Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI receives a Lazio soccer team's jersey from club's president Claudio Lotito, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

  • VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

    Pope Benedict XVI (C) leads his weekly general audience on January 30, 2013 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO,ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • VATICAN-POPE-ANGELUS-DOVE

    Pope Benedict XVI releases a dove from the window of his appartment at the end of his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on January 27, 2013. The Pontiff and youth of the Catholic Action released two doves, symbol of peace. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-VATICAN-RELIGION-POPE

    Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead the celebration of the Vespers of the Solemnity of the conversion of Saint Paul, in conclusion of the week of prayer for christian unity at the Saint Paul basilica in Rome on January 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates Baptisms In Sistine Chapel

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 13: Pope Benedict XVI (L) performs a baptism in the Sistine Chapel on January 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Vatican reiterated its opposition to same-sex marriage on January 13, after an Italian court ruling it was prejudice to assume a child would have a detrimental upbringing living with a gay couple. (Photo by L'Osservatore Romano-Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

  • VATICAN-POPE-MONACO-PRINCE

    Pope Benedict XVI welcomes Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene on January 12, 2013 prior to a private audience at Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • VATICAN-POPE-MONACO-PRINCE

    Pope Benedict XVI (C) talks to Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene on January 12, 2013 during a private audience at Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI Receives Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 12: Pope Benedict XVI meets HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco during a private audience at his library on January 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI (L) is greeted by Ital

    Pope Benedict XVI (L) is greeted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and his wife Elsa (both not pictured) as he disembarks from a helicopter in Arezzo stadium on the start of a one day pastoral visit on May 13, 2012. The Pope will lead a Holy Mass and will also visit the Shrine of La Verna and address citizens of Sansepolcro. AFP PHOTO / POOL / VINCENZO PINTO ALTERNATIVE CROP VERSION (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, right, and Pope Benedict XVI meet during an official visit at the Vatican Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. Premier Mario Monti has met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in their first formal talks since Monti took over as head of a government of experts in November to tackle Italy's debt crisis. The Vatican said the two sides discussed Italian and European issues as well as the need to protect religious minorities in some areas of the world, and confirmed their interest in continuing "constructive cooperation." (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

  • Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, right, and Pope Benedict XVI meet during an official visit at the Vatican Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool)

  • Pope Benedict XVI (R) is greeted by Ital

    Pope Benedict XVI (R) is greeted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and his wife Elsa (L) as he disembarks from a helicopter in Arezzo stadium on the start of a one day pastoral visit on May 13, 2012. The Pope will lead a Holy Mass and will also visit the Shrine of La Verna and address citizens of Sansepolcro. AFP PHOTO / POOL / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Pope Benedict XVI meets Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 14: Pope Benedict XVI exchanges gifts with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti during a meeting at his private library on January 14, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican. This is the first time the Pope has received the new Italian President. (Photo by Stefano Dal Pozzolo - Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI and German Chancellor

    Pope Benedict XVI and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a picture after an oecumenical service at the protestant monastery of St. Augustin in Erfurt, eastern Germany, on September 23, 2011, on the second day of the Pontiff's first state visit to his native Germany. The 84-year old pope, German born Joseph Ratzinger, has a packed program, with 18 sermons and speeches planned for his four-day trip to Berlin, Erfurt in the ex-German Democratic Republic and Freiburg. AFP PHOTO / POOL BUNDESREGIERUNG GUIDO BERGMANN (Photo credit should read GUIDO BERGMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Benedict XVI , Angela Merkel, Joachim Sauer

    Benedict XVI speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and her husband Joachim Sauer, left, in the house of the German Bishops Conference in Berlin, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI is on a four-day official visit to his homeland Germany. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, pool)

  • ALTERNATIVE CROP - German Chancellor Ang

    ALTERNATIVE CROP - German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) looks on as Pope Benedict XVI has his robe blown in the face by the wind after arriving on September 22, 2011 at the Tegel airport in Berlin, where he starts his first state visit to his native Germany. The 84-year old pope, German born Joseph Ratzinger, has a packed program, with 18 sermons and speeches planned for his four-day trip to Berlin, Erfurt in the ex-German Democratic Republic and Freiburg. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Silvio Berlusconi Pope Benedict XVI

    FILE - In this Friday, June 6, 2008 file photo, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi shows one of the gifts he received from Pope Benedict XVI, a pen commemorating St. Peter, on the occasion of their meeting at the Vatican City. Premier Silvio Berlusconi resigned in Rome, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, after the Parliament's lower chamber passed European-demanded reforms, ending a 17-year political era and setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing Italy back from the brink of economic crisis. The 75-year-old billionaire media mogul, who came to power for the first time in 1994 using a soccer chant "Go Italy" as the name of his political party, became Italy's longest-serving post-war premier.(AP Photo/Alessandro Bianchi, pool, file)

  • The Pope Meets With President Obama

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JULY 10: US President Barack Obama (L) and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict XVI in his library at the Vatican on July 10, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. Obama was meeting with The Pope for the first time as President following the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • The Pope Meets With President Obama

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JULY 10: US President Barack Obama (L) and First Lady Michelle Obama exchange gifts with Pope Benedict XVI in his library at the Vatican on July 10, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. Obama was meeting with The Pope for the first time as President following the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • The Pope Meets With President Obama

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JULY 10: US President Barack Obama (R) meets with Pope Benedict XVI in his library at the Vatican on July 10, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. Obama was meeting with The Pope for the first time as President following the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron (L)

    British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) bids farewell to Pope Benedict XVI at Birmingham International Airport, England, on September 19, 2010, after a four day visit to Britain by the Pope. Pope Benedict XVI flew out of Britain Sunday after an historic four-day state visit, as Prime Minister David Cameron said he had made people 'sit up and think.' AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

  • His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Pays A State Visit To The UK - Day 4

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Pope Benedict XVI is escorted by PM David Cameron as heads to board his Alitalia jet to Italy on September 19, 2010 in Birmingham, England. Pope Benedict XVI has conducted the first state visit to the UK by a Pontiff. Earlier in the day he beatified Cardinal Newman at an open air mass in Cofton Park. (Photo by Carl Court - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI (R) meets with British

    Pope Benedict XVI (R) meets with British Prime Minister David Cameron at Archbishop's House, in central London, on September 18, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI is 'very calm' and 'no one felt threatened' despite the arrest of six men linked to an alleged plot to launch an attack during his visit to Britain, a Vatican spokesman said Saturday. AFP PHOTO/Stefan Rousseau/POOL (Photo credit should read STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI strokesa lion cub as he greets circus artists and workers, during an audience he held in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Benedict clapped and watched amused as circus workers flipped, flopped, juggled and twisted before him in what the Vatican has called a historic audience to make street performers and other itinerant entertainers feel like they belong to the church. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI strokes a lion cub as he greets circus artists and workers during an audience he held in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Benedict clapped and watched amused as circus workers flipped, flopped, juggled and twisted before him in what the Vatican has called a historic audience to make street performers and other itinerant entertainers feel like they belong to the church. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates The Vespers And Te Deum Prayers To Mark The End of 2012

    Pope Benedict XVI is helped by assistants as he celebrates the Vespers and Te Deum prayers in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on December 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates The Vespers And Te Deum Prayers To Mark The End of 2012

    Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Vespers and Te Deum prayers in Saint Peter's Basilica the mark the end of 2012 at the Vatican on December 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • VATICAN-POPE-TAIZE-MEETING

    Pope Benedict XVI blesses as arrives for the prayer with the ecumenical christian community of Taize during their European meeting, on December 29, 2012, in St.Peter's square at the Vatican. The Taize community, based in the eastern French village of Taize, was created in 1940 by Brother Roger, from Switzerland. The group draws tens of thousands of young people for prayer workshops held across the year at its base, and similar numbers at its annual gathering in a European city, traditionally held between Christmas and the New Year's eve. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FILE - In this June 28, 2011 file photo, Pope Benedict XVI touches a touchpad to send a tweet for the launch of the Vatican news information portal "www.news.va", at the Vatican. The Vatican said Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, that Pope Benedict XVI will start tweeting in six languages from his own personal handle (at)Pontifex, on Dec. 12. The pontiff will be using a question and answer format in his first Tweet, focusing on answering questions about faith — in 140 characters. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, File) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • Bechara el-Rai

    FILE - In this Tuesday, March 15, 2011 file photo, the newly elected Maronite Patriarch Bechara el-Rai gestures as he is surrounded by supporters shortly after his election at the Maronite church's seat in Bkirki, northeast of Beirut, Lebanon. Pope Benedict XVI has named six new cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, adding prelates from Lebanon, the Philippines, Nigeria, Colombia, India and the United States to the ranks of cardinals who will elect his successor. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

  • Benedict XVI

    Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's square to bless the nativity scene at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. The Pontiff marked the end of 2011 with prayers of thanks and said humanity awaits the new year with apprehension but also with hope for a better future. "Another year approaches its end, while we await a new one, with the trepidation, desires and expectations of always," Benedict said at the traditional New Year's Eve vespers service, as he delivered his homily from the central altar of St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

  • Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing as he arrives for the weekly general audience in the Pope Paul II hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)