Pope Benedict XVI asked the tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray for him and his successor. The New York Times reported on the speech made from the window of the Pope's apartment in the Apostolic Palace on Feb. 17. The Pope did not offer any further explanation about his decision to resign other than his request for prayer.
The crowd was estimated as high as 50,000 people, many bearing signs and chanting, “Viva il Papa!” He focused his address on the beginning of Lent, the period of spiritual reflection in the 40 days preceding Easter. He called on the Roman Catholic Church to place their focus on God, “repudiating pride and egotism.”
The Pope will need the prayers of the faithful as he completes his time as the “Vicar of Christ” on earth. He is scheduled to meet with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Feb. 23 in the late morning. You can view the Pope’s remaining scheduled activities here. Pope Benedict will reportedly be petitioning the Italian president for immunity from international prosecution which has been protested by the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS).
"Our understanding is that, in the wake of pressure to have him resign his office because of his proven complicity in concealing child trafficking in his church and other crimes against humanity, Joseph Ratzinger is seeking the assistance of the Italian government in securing protection and immunity from legal prosecution.
I need not remind you, Mr. President, that under international law and treaties that have been ratified by Italy, you and your government are forbidden from granting such protection to those like Jospeh Ratzinger who have aided and abetted criminal actions, such as ordering Bishops and Cardinals in America and elsewhere to protect known child rapists among their clergy."
The Pope and two other Vatican officials were named in a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court at The Hague in 2010. A group of sexual abuse victims represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights accused the Pope and his associates of crimes against humanity. You can read about that here.