Pope Benedict XVI. said good bye to the faithful in Rome: he held his last general audience in front of 250,000 pilgrims and tourists. The Pope promised to all who came and watched via TV, that he will remain in service for the Church.
“The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good. There were also moments when there were stormy waters and headwinds,” the pope said. “But I always knew that God was in that boat and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, is not ours, but is his and he will not let it sink,” the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics told the cheering crowd.
Decision after intense reflection
Benedict XVI. said he had taken the decision of his official resignation after deep consideration, after he had felt that he no longer had the strength to fulfill the ministry. He made this decision for the good of the Church. The Pope thanked the faithful who had received his resignation with respect and understanding.
“I will continue to accompany the Church with prayer and reflection.”
Benedict XVI also asked for prayers for the Church and for his successor. “Often we speak of a demise of the Church, but she proves that she is alive,” assured the Pope. Several times, his words were interrupted by applause of the crowd.
This is not an ordinary election: In this election, there are no official candidates, no campaign, no official support committees, neither promises nor election campaign gifts. Presumably it is this opaque situation in the papal election, which fueled the rumor mill about possible successors.
According to British bookies, candidates from Africa, Italy and Canada have very good odds, as the Italian news agency for betting and gambling, Agipro News, reported on Monday.
Pope Benedict XVI. had previously announced his surprise resignation. The 85-year-old said at a plenary meeting of the cardinals in a speech held in Latin, because of his age he was no longer “the force” to lead the Catholic Church. It is the first time in centuries that a pope resigns from office.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” Benedict said in a statement.