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Benedict Resigns

On Ash Wednesday, pope preaches on humility, Christian unity

Celebrating what was expected to be the last public liturgy of his pontificate two weeks before his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI preached on the virtues of humility and Christian unity and heard his highest-ranking aide pay tribute to his service to the church.

Jesus "denounces religious hypocrisy, behavior that wants to show off, attitudes that seek applause and approval," the pope said in his homily during Mass on Wednesday in St. Peter's Basilica. "The true disciple does not serve himself or the 'public,' but his Lord, in simplicity and generosity."

Looking to legacy, pope mentions Dorothy Day

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As Pope Benedict looks to shore up his legacy in the last two weeks of his pontificate, he used one of his last general audiences Wednesday to cite three 20th century writers as examples of deep conversion to faith.

Among those Benedict mentioned was Dorothy Day, the late New Yorker who was the co-founder of a continuing radical U.S. Catholic movement focused on embracing voluntary poverty and living out the works of mercy.

On Ash Wednesday, Benedict starts framing his legacy

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Having established Feb. 28 as the end of his papacy, Benedict XVI now has two weeks to leave a final imprint on the church, conscious that every word he says for the next two weeks and every act he performs will be among his last.

One has to imagine that Benedict will use these opportunities to stress a few themes particularly dear to his heart, which will both help sum up his own papacy and, perhaps, help sketch a path for his successor.

In effect, the pope's record over the next two weeks amounts to a final chance to frame his own legacy.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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