TODAY   |  February 13, 2013

Questions linger as pope marks Ash Wednesday

The Vatican says the pope will likely not be named pope emeritus to avoid having two popes at once. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>> right now we want to go to vatican city in rome where nbc's anne thompson has more on the first appearance from pope benedict xvi since his announce thamt he ment that he's stepping down at the end of the month. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. this is ash wednesday. it's usually a somber day in the catholic church . there's a celebratory air here in vatican city as the pope begins what some are calling his farewell tour . this morning, the public getting its first chance to express their appreciation for pope benedict since announcing his abdica abdication. with the end of his papacy days away . a church famous for its rituals, vatican officials are working without a script as benedict moves into retirement. what are you going to call pope benedict once he steps down?

>> i don't think he will be the pope emeritus. one of his other titles is the bishop of rome . he will probably be the americas bishop of rome sfw.

>> reporter: showed a flare for fashion, earning the nickname the prada pope. this monastery is being renovated for pope benedict . it will have a library for the scholarly man and his cat also accompany him. no word yet on whether there will be a piano as well. he is expected to distance himself from the politics of the church.

>> he is somebody very far away from the intrigue, okay? he hasn't dwelled on that. if he did, i imagine he would still want to be pope and wielding power and making decision decisions.

>> reporter: this morning, pope benedict will preside over ash wednesday mass. it was moved to st. peter's basilica to accommodate the thousands who are expected to attend what could be the last public mass of his papacy. the vatican has announced the conclave to choose his successor will begin the week after march 15th . matt?

>> anne thompson in vatican city for us this morning. thank you so much.