{{show_title_date || "Pope Benedict XVI leaves Vatican for last time as pontiff, 2/27/13, 7:00 PM ET"}}

Pope Benedict leaves Vatican for final time as pontiff

Updated

Pope Benedict XVI left Vatican City Friday for the last time as head of the Roman Catholic Church. He was taken by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo where he will remain until April.

“While it’s a bittersweet moment, I always find that there’s a sense of hope,” said Duquesne University professor Elizabeth Lev on Jansing & Co.

Benedict officially ceases being pope at 2:00 p.m. EST. There will be no formal ceremony marking the end of his papacy.

“One of the things that’s important to realize is that even though this decision is so new and it’s so bold and it took so much courage and strength to make the decision, it actually reiterates and kind of affirms a truth about the papacy that we’ve always held in the Catholic Church, which is that the papacy is really an office that was established by Jesus Christ. ” Father John Bartunek told msnbc’s Chris Jansing.

In April Benedict will move to his permanent residence in Mater Ecclesiae, a convent for cloistered nuns at the Vatican. Since the convent is currently under renovation, Benedict will stay in Castel Gandolfo, a small town of about 8,000 people a few miles outside of Rome. It has also served as a summer retreat for popes for nearly 400 years.

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Pope Benedict leaves Vatican for final time as pontiff

Updated