Merkel pays tribute to pope at Berlin mass
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and members of her government attended a special mass in Berlin on Thursday to mark the pope's last day in office.
The German leader joined hundreds of faithful in paying tribute to German-born Joseph Ratzinger at the capital's Saint Hedwig cathedral. Members of the government including Merkel's coalition partner, CSU leader Horst Seehofer, and the ministers of the interior and economy were also present.
The archbishop of Freiburg, Robert Zollitsch, thanked Benedict XVI on behalf of Germany for his "clear words" on a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 2006 when he likened the Nazis to a "group of criminals".
After his historic announcement a fortnight ago that he would end his papacy, the pontiff is to formally resign at 1900 GMT.
© 2013 AFP