February 25, 2013

Pope Tells Faithful God Called Him to Resign

The Pope has told an estimated 100,000 at St Peter's Square he would continue to serve the Catholic Church even after he resigns on Thursday, becoming the first pontiff in 700 years to willingly do so.

In his last Sunday blessing from a window overlooking the giant key-shaped piazza, the 85-year-old Pope said he was not "abandoning the Church" by his decision to retire to a former nunnery inside the walls of the Vatican.

To applause and cheering from the crowd, he said he had been "called" by God to devote himself to a quiet life of prayer and reflection.
"But this doesn't mean abandoning the church," he told the crowds packed into St Peter's as they held up banners which read "Grazie" (thank you) and waved flags from Italy, Brazil, Romania, France and a dozen other countries.

Three nuns in beige wimples clutched a large banner which read "Viva Il Papa", a group of French Catholics had a placard which said "Au revoir e merci" and a crowd of Mexicans in silver and black sombreros played guitar music and sang.

Dressed in white vestments and extending his arms to the faithful, Benedict said he would "continue to serve it (the Church) with the same dedication and the same love which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suitable to my age and to my strength."

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