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Pope admits 'difficult times' during Papacy
Benedict XVI gave his final general audience in St Peter's Square in Rome to an audience of thousands.
The Pope said in his final general audience in Rome that he 'has great trust' in the future of the Roman Catholic Church.
Benedict XVI has made his final address before retiring tomorrow, the first Pope to resign in 600 years.
Tens of thousands of well wishers had gathered since in the early hours in St Peter's Square for his address waving flags and chanting his name before falling silent as he started to speak. The 85 year-old said that when he was elected leader of one billion Catholics worldwide in April, 2005, he questioned if God truly wanted it.
He recalled telling God:
"It's a great burden that you've placed on my shoulders."
He went on to say his eight year papacy has had its ups and downs:
"It was a journey with joy, with light but there have also been difficult moments. I felt like St Peter's with the Apostles in the boat in the Galilee lake.
"The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good. There were also moments when there were stormy waters and headwinds."
"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."
He said he had resigned not for his own good, but for the good of the Church:
"I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit." He told the crowd he would remain in service to the Church in prayer.
Premier's Maria Rodriques-Toth was there and spoke to Marcus Jones on the News Hour:
The pontiff was driven around the square in the white pope-mobile and waved to the assembled pilgrims from all over the world who have descended on Rome to witness the historic moment.
Premier asked these Catholics in Rome what they thought of today's address:
Monsignor Keith Newton from Our Lady of Walsingham was in the square. He gives his thoughts on the pontiff to Premier's Maria Rodriquez-Toth.
After the audience, the Pope went to the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Palace to meet with some of the dignataries who have travelled there to wish him farewell. Among them the presidents of Slovakia and of the German region of Bavaria. His successor will be chosen in a conclave believed to take place in the first week of March. Many of the cardinals who will elect his successor were in the square to see the Pope's final general audience.
The pontiff made the shock announcement to resign earlier this month saying he no longer felt like he had the mental or physical capability to carry on his duties. A Vatican press officer said Benedict XVI will be known as Pontiff emeritus or Pope emeritus, and will keep the name of His Holiness, Benedict XVI and will dress in a simple white cassock without any cape. He will no longer wear his gold ring of office, called 'the Fisherman's Ring, which will be destroyed along with his seal and he will no longer wear the red papal shoes. He will hold a farewell meeting with cardinals at the Vatican on Thursday before being flown by helicopter to his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo.
He's also promised to pray for Catholics in England and Wales. In a letter to Archbishop Vincent Nichols he expressed his thanks and gratitude for the support and prayers he has received since announcing his decision to resign.
He also wrote of his warm memories of his historic State Visit to the UK in 2010 and the "many graces received during those four days".
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