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Ratzinger 'impatient' for own retirement

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has indicated that he is waiting "impatiently" for the day when he may retire from his post.

Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made his comment in reaction to the news that Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan will resign in February and move to Jerusalem to finish his life in prayer and study there.

"I can readily understand his desire," Cardinal Ratzinger told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. "This life is very hard."

However, Cardinal Ratzinger implicitly acknowledged that his own desire for retirement might not be realised. The German-born cardinal said that he would continue to serve for as long as the Pope sought his services. He added that Cardinal Martini might well be asked to remain at the head of the Milan archdiocese for at least several months after reaching his 75th birthday in February.

Cardinal Ratzinger, who will turn 75 himself in April 2002, has been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1985. According to frequent reports, he has submitted his resignation at least twice already, only to have Pope John Paul II ask him to stay on.