VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI gave his final general audience, the weekly appointment he kept with the faithful and tourists to teach them about the Catholic faith.
The Pope addressed the faithful in English by saying,
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, I offer a warm and affectionate greeting to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors who have joined me for this, my last General Audience. Like Saint Paul, whose words we heard earlier, my heart is filled with thanksgiving to God who ever watches over his Church and her growth in faith and love, and I embrace all of you with joy and gratitude. During this Year of Faith, we have been called to renew our joyful trust in the Lord's presence in our lives and in the life of the Church. I am personally grateful for his unfailing love and guidance in the eight years since I accepted his call to serve as the Successor of Peter. I am also deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also throughout the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God's will and a deep love of Christ's Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new Pope. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history. I commend all of you, with great affection, to his loving care, asking him to strengthen you in the hope which opens our hearts to the fullness of life that he alone can give. To you and your families, I impart my blessing. Thank you!"
Some 50,000 tickets have been requested for Benedict's final master class in St. Peter's Square; thousands more people are expected to pack the main boulevard leading to the piazza to watch Wednesday's audience on giant TV screens.
On Tuesday, the Vatican said Benedict would in retirement continue to wear the white cassock of the papacy and be called "emeritus pope" or "Your Holiness," raising questions about the peculiar situation soon to confront the church: having a reigning and a retired pope, living side-by-side.
The Vatican says it foresees no problems and Benedict has said he will pray and be "hidden to the world."
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