ROME (28-Feb-2013/PNA/Xinhua) – The departing Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday held his final general audience at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, drawing a massive crowd of Catholic believers and other spectators from all across the world.
After extending greetings in a motorized car around the square to the cheering crowd, the Pope said his resignation was for the good of the church, while recalling the day back in 2005 when he assumed the papacy.
Tens of thousands stood for hours to be with the Pope on the eve of his official withdrawal from public life, many of whom waving national flags and banners.
“I came to see the Pope for the last time before he retires. I like him very much,” said Valentina Ferri, a ten-year-old girl from Rome.
The Pope more or less shocked the whole world when he had announced the decision to resign due to “physical weakness” earlier this month.
There were doubts about the real reasons behind his resignation due to the rise of scandals within the church, but many believers would rather think that the Pope was indeed getting too old.
“What wants to work at 85? Or even 65?” joked James Williams, a priest from New York studying in Rome.
Benedict was dean of the College of Cardinal in 2005 when he became the sixth German to be picked as Pope. His resignation has been the first in nearly 600 years.
Earlier this week, the Vatican announced that the name Benedict XVI would be kept and the Pope would be known as “pope emeritus” upon his resignation.
The Pope is scheduled to officially leave office at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and cardinals should elect a successor in a conclave next month. (PNA/Xinhua)