Religion of Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a adoring crowd of 150,000 people at the Vatican earlier today, speaking of moments of "joy and light" as well as the challenges of the papalcy.
The pope has addressed crowds at the Vatican every week for the past eight years. This was his final speech before his official resignation tomorrow after which a new pope will be elected next month.
"To love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself," he said.
Pope Benedict thanked his followers for respecting his decision to retire - a decision which has not been take by a pope for seven centuries.
After his speech he did a lap of the Vatican square to wave to the crowds which gathered to see him and kiss and bless half a dozen children.
Pope Benedict will meet with the Vatican's cardinals for a final time tomorrow after which he will fly by helicopter to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.