Vatican officials have dismissed suggestions that the outgoing head of the Roman Catholic Church will exert influence over his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI told a meeting of priests that he plans to spend his future in seclusion.
"Even if I am withdrawing into prayer I will always be close to all of you and I am sure you will be close to me. ... Even if I remain hidden to the world," he said.
Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reports from Rome.