Media reflect on Benedict XVI's last day as Pope
Media across Europe have adopted a respectful tone as they ponder the significance of Benedict XVI's final day as head of the Catholic Church.
One exception is the German tabloid Bild, which maintains the jocular tone it set on Benedict XVI's election to the papacy in 2005, when the paper famously declared "We are the pope". Bild's coverage also features a clock counting down the hours, minutes and seconds to the pope's final departure.
Though some commentators hint at the challenges that will face the Catholic Church in the wake of Benedict XVI's departure, media speculation as to who might succeed him appears to have been temporarily put on hold.
Giacomo Galeazzi in La Stampa
The last that people will see of Benedict XVI (at least in his role as Pope) will be at 5.30, when he will appear on the balcony of Castel Gandolfo in order to greet the faithful in the square below. Then the window will be closed and Ratzinger will withdraw into a secluded life of prayer.
Ilvo Diamanti in La Repubblica
Benedict XVI is leaving. Retiring. Weakened by health problems and by age. But perhaps also by the weight of the scandals that have shaken the Church during his papacy. And by the intrigues and tensions with which the Vatican is riddled.
Banner headline in best-selling paper Bild
We were the pope for 2872 days.
Headline in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Farewell in gratitude
Headline in Die Welt
The world's most popular and loved German
Richard Herzinger in Die Welt
As much as [the pope's] resignation is understandable and from a human point of view even appealing, it also proves the fact that the papacy has become sucked into the mill wheels of secularisation - and will probably be crushed by them. The fact that in the end, the pope just wants to be a human being like me and you profanes an office that according to the will of the Church should represent an inviolable alternative to the inadequacy of worldly existence.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski via Twitter.
Morning in the Eternal City on the last day of [Benedict's] pontificate. A historic day, but a sad one. Another anchor is lost in this crazy world.
Polish news website TVN24
The first day of this kind in Vatican for 598 years… Yet it looks as if 28 February is just another regular day in the Vatican. Tourists from all over the world are strolling across St Peter's square, crowds head for the Basilica. Many of them stop at the tomb of John Paul II in the chapel of St Sebastian.
Dominican priest Maciej Zieba writing in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza
What takes place tonight is an act of courage and weakness mixed with strength. The pope admitted that he is no longer able to continue. We are all made of flesh and blood, after all.
Polish theologian Pawel Milcarek writing in the daily Rzeczpospolita
The church now needs someone who knows and understands everything that Benedict XVI did, but who also has the strength that Benedict lacked.
Vatican expert Silvije Tomasevic in the news portal Index.hr
Pope Benedict XVII is saying farewell to his papal duties today. He will spend his final day in the company of the cardinals and then fly by helicopter to his future residence at Castel Gandolfo. By 8 o'clock this evening the papal chair will be empty.
Dominique Greiner in French Catholic daily La Croix
Benedict XVI's decision, which is virtually unprecedented in the history of the papacy, is that of a man who is fundamentally free.
Editorial in El Pais
The Pope's resignation… can be interpreted as a way of humanising the papacy, and the last steps of his mandate could also be seen as reaffirming that there is no place for concealment and taboo within the Catholic hierarchy.