Category: Society / February 27, 2013 8:55 AM EST
Pope Benedict bid an emotional farewell at his last general audience on Wednesday (February 27), saying he understood the gravity of his decision to become the first pontiff to resign in 600 years but that he had done it for the good of the Roman Catholic Church.
Addressing an estimated 150,000 people in St Peter's Square the day before he steps down, Benedict said his time had included moments of joy but also difficulty.
He spoke while sitting on an ivory colored throne on the steps of St Peter's Basilica.
"I am also deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also throughout the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God's will and a deep love of Christ's Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope," Benedict said in English.
Benedict will abdicate on Thursday (February 28) night and then cardinals begin consultations ahead of a conclave to choose his successor.
The pope says he is too old and weak to continue leading a Church beset by crises over child abuse by priests and a leak of confidential Vatican documents showing corruption and rivalry among Vatican officials.
Video Source: Reuters