In final General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI says ‘not abandoning the cross’
By John Stegeman The Catholic Telegraph
ROME — More than 150,000 pilgrims turned out for Pope Benedict XVI’s final general audience Wednesday Morning in St. Peter’s Square. Millions more around the world watched the audience via EWTN and a live feed on the Vatican’s website.
Others followed online as The Catholic Telegraph (@CathTelegraph) and others live tweeted the event.
Calling the papacy a great weight placed on his shoulders, the pope added that once elected pope, a man no longer has a private life.
“My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not change that,” he said. “I am not returning to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences et cetera. I am not abandoning the cross, but I remain close to the crucified Lord in a new way.”
Looking at times tired, and other times inspired, the pope’s voice was clear and strong throughout the audience, held just more than 24 hours before the end of his papacy. Pope Benedict XVI will become His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope-Emeritus at 8 p.m. Rome time Thursday. He is the first pope to resign in 598 years when Pope Gregory XII did so to end the Western Schism.
“I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and rarity but also with profound serenity of spirit,” the pope said.
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