Outgoing Pope Benedict XVI addressed a crowd of tens of thousands at St Peters Square in Rome on Feb 27th, in an emotional farewell in which the pontiff claimed that he had resigned while “keeping the good of the church in mind.”
Benedict‘s resignation will take full effect on Feb 28th, making the farewell address the pope’s last as the infallible pontiff. Reuters estimates that around 150,000 gathered to witness the Pope’s farewell, including numerous cardinals who will help to choose his successor.
According to the New York Times, Benedict’s address included references to the journey of St. Peter and the apostles, wherein he noted that God had given him “so many days of sun and light breezes, when the fishing was abundant.”
“But there were times when the waters were choppy and, as throughout the history of the church, it looked as if the Lord was sleeping. But I have always known that the Lord was in that boat, that the boat was not mine or ours, but was his and he will not let it founder.”
CBS writes that Benedict took a “long victory lap” around the square and kissed children during his farewell appearance, while noting in his address that 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.”
“My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not change that. 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,” he added, according to the Times.
It’s unknown who the next Pope will be, although cardinals are scheduled to come together in a traditional conclave to make the decision soon.
The outgoing Pope changed the conclave law to allow the cardinals who will choose his successor to get an earlier start on the rigorous selection process, which can now begin before March 15th.