Pope Benedict XVI made his final public remarks Wednesday to a crowd of about 150,000 in St. Peter’s Square. He drove onto the square in his Popemobile and took several laps around the crowd, stopping five times to kiss babies handed to him. A group of about 70 cardinals stood as he rode into the square.
We’ve never seen a papal goodbye like this one, considering no pope has resigned in 600 years.
Wednesday is typically a general audience before the Pope and it was moved outside because large crowds were expected.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the crowd, with a very personal statement, recalling the painful decision to resign and the burden that was placed on his shoulders when he was elected.
“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,”‘ Benedict said, according to the AP.
Critics had said the pope shouldn’t get down off the cross, something he also addressed.
“I have had moments of joy and light, but also moments that haven’t been easy…moments of turbulent seas and rough winds, as has occurred in the history of the church when it seemed like the Lord was sleeping,” Pope Benedict said, also according to the AP.
Thursday the Pope will meet with cardinals, then a helicopter will take him to Castel Gandolfo, where he will reside temporarily.
He will officially no longer be pope at 8 p.m. local Rome time.