As Pope Benedict met with the more than 50,000 pilgrims today, Feb. 27, in St. Peter’s Square, he thanked the faithful and offered farewell blessings during his final general audience, according to News. VA.
The first Pope to resign in almost 600 years, after Feb. 28, Joseph Ratzinger will forever be called Pope Emeritus, still wearing the traditional white garments without the Pontifical red shoes, no longer responsible for the Office of the Papacy.
Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and member of the 115 Cardinals within the College of Cardinals, left for the Vatican yesterday to bid adieu to Pope Benedict and partake in the Conclave that will elect the new leader of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Dolan is eligible to be voted as the next Pope, however, he is considered to be a long shot.
Pope Benedict greeted the English-speaking pilgrims during his final general audience, thanking God and Catholics worldwide for their support in his decision to retire after eight year of serving the Lord as Pontiff.
I am personally grateful for His unfailing love and guidance in the eight years since I accepted his call to serve as the Successor of Peter. 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.
Pope Benedict addressed his failing health within the full text of his general audience, acknowledging the difficulty the decision to resign was.
In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.
The Pope closed the general audience, first in his English-speaking address, blessing those Catholics present and around the world, and finally, within his general text, reminding the faithful of the constant presence of the Lord within our lives.
I commend all of you, with great affection, to his loving care, asking him to strengthen you in the hope, which opens our hearts to the fullness of life that he alone can give. To you and your families, I impart my blessing. Thank you!
Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you!
Pope Benedict will leave the Office of the Papacy tomorrow, Feb. 28. You can follow the news from the Vatican, the conclave, the new Pope and the Catholic Church with the free Pope App for iPhone, iPod and iPad and coming soon for Android and iPadHD.
Deirdre Haggerty, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission and consent from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC, DBA Examiner.com.