Pope's future influence still a question - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Pope's future influence still a question

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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- New questions are arising about just how much influence Pope Benedict will exert over his successor after he steps down at the end of the month.

The Vatican is confirming that Benedict's closest adviser will continue to serve as his private secretary, even while also running the household of the new pope.

But a Vatican spokesman says the job with the new pope just involves organizing the pontiff's audience, and doesn't have any policy-making role in it.

It will be the first time in 600 years that the Catholic Church will have both a reigning pope and a retired one. The Vatican has said Benedict will devote himself entirely to a life of prayer.

During a farewell audience today with a few thousand priests who live and work in Rome, the pope said he would remain "hidden" to the world in retirement. It was the pope's only public appearance today -- and during that session, he delivered a 45-minute lucid and often funny monologue about the Second Vatican Council.

Also today, the Vatican confirmed that Benedict had hit his head on a sink during his trip to Mexico last year. But a spokesman says it wasn't "relevant" in the pope's decision to resign.

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