Pope Benedict hints he will retire into seclusion

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The outgoing head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has hinted he will withdraw into seclusion after stepping down at the end of this month.

"Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you... even if I remain hidden to the world," he told a meeting of Roman priests.

The pontiff, 85, shocked the world's biggest Christian Church on Monday when he announced his resignation.

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