Pope requests support after decision to resign
Vatican City, February 13, 2013
Pope Benedict, in his first public comments since he announced that he would become the first pontiff in centuries to resign, on Wednesday said he was fully aware of the gravity of his decision but confident that it would not hurt the Church.
"Continue to pray for me, for the Church and for the future pope," he said in unscripted remarks at the start of his weekly general audience, one of his last public appearances before he resigns on February 28.
The pope, who looked and sounded strong, was interrupted several times by thunderous applause from the some 8,000 faithful and tourists who packed the vast audience hall.
In brief, prepared remarks that mirrored those he read to stunned cardinals when he announced his decision on Monday, the pope said God would continue to guide the Church because it was much more than its earthly leader.
"I took this decision in full freedom for the good of the Church after praying for a long time and examining by conscience before God," he said.
He said he was, "well aware of the gravity of such an act but at the same time aware of not being able to carry out my (papal) ministry with the physical and spiritual force that it requires".
Benedict said he was sustained by the "certainty that the Church belongs to Christ, who will never stop guiding it and caring for it".
He said that "he felt almost physically" the affection and kindness he had received since he announced the decision.
Later on Wednesday, an Ash Wednesday Mass that was originally scheduled to have taken place in a small church in Rome, has been moved to St Peter's Basilica so more people can attend.
Unless the Vatican changes the pope's schedule, it will be his last public Mass. – Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Confusion as search for lost jet spreads
- Military denies lost plane's flight to Malacca
- Investors monitoring Pimco after internal strife
- N Korea tanker ‘leaves Libya rebel port carrying oil’
- Malaysia plane incident not terror related: Interpol
- Crimea closes air space to commercial flights
- Missing Malaysian plane last seen At Malacca Strait
- Stolen passport holder on missing plane is Iranian
- China deploys 10 satellites to search for Malaysia jet
- Libya says halts tanker outside port; rebels deny it
- Libya orders military force to 'liberate' ports
- Big bananas: Chiquita, Fyffes merge
- Radar sweeps, dozens of aircraft, but no sign of plane
- N Korea tanker loads oil at Libya rebel port
- Gold drops as US growth optimism weighs
- Merkel raps Putin; Russia tightens grip on Crimea
- World 'at sea' over missing Malaysian jetliner
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK