The Pope, 85, will retire today
Thousands of pilgrims gathered yesterday in St Peter's Square in the Vatican for Pope Benedict's final general audience.
The departing Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday held his final general audience at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, drawing a massive crowd of Catholic believers and other spectators from all across the world.
After extending greetings in a motorized car around the square to the cheering crowd, the Pope said his resignation was for the good of the church, while recalling the day back in 2005 when he assumed the papacy
Pope Benedict told the crowd his papacy had been "a heavy burden" but he accepted it because he was sure that God would guide him.
The Pope, 85, will retire on Thursday - the first pope to abdicate since Gregory XII in 1415.
Benedict was dean of the College of Cardinal in 2005 when he became the sixth German to be picked as Pope. His resignation has been the first in nearly 600 years.
"I took this step of resignation in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit," he said in his address.
As a result of his surprise announcement, the Church has now amended its laws to bring forward the election of a successor.
A conclave beginning in mid-March would have left little time to have a new pope installed for one of the most important periods in the Catholic calendar, Holy Week, leading up to Easter, which begins on 24 March.
After Benedict XVI steps down, he will become known as "pope emeritus".
He will retain the honorific "His Holiness" after his retirement and will continue to be known by his papal title of Benedict XVI, rather than reverting to Joseph Ratzinger.
He will wear his distinctive white cassock without any cape or trimmings, but will surrender his gold ring of office and his personal seal will be destroyed.
- Asian Tribune -