Pope Bids Farewell to Huge Crowds
(Vatican City) – Pope Benedict XVI has held the last audience of his pontificate in St Peter’s Square on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Tens of thousands of pilgrims carrying banners saying “Thank you!” flooded St Peter’s Square to bid a final farewell to the 85-year-old Pope who abruptly cut short his pontificate by declaring he was too weak in body and mind to keep up with the modern world.
“Thank you, our creator, for this weather considering we are in winter,” the Pope said. “I feel I can keep you in my prayers … and entrust you all to the Lord so that we have full knowledge of his will through spiritual intelligence and knowledge.”
The Pope recalled moments of “joy and light” during his papacy but also times of great difficulty. He thanked his cardinals, colleagues and ordinary faithful for their support and for respecting his decision to become the first pope in 600 years to resign. “To love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself,” said Benedict XVI.