Pope tells 150,000 farewell crowd, sometimes the Lord seems to be sleeping

Pope Benedict XVI held his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, telling tens of thousands of people he had known “moments of joy and light but also moments that were not easy” when “the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”

In an unusually personal address,  the pope cited the biblical voyage of Jesus and the apostles on the Sea of Galilee, saying God had given him “so many days of sun and light breezes, when the fishing was abundant.

But there were times when the waters were choppy and there were headwinds, as throughout the history of the church, and it looked as if the Lord was sleeping.

But I have always known that the Lord was in that boat, that the boat was not mine or ours, but was his and he will not let it founder.”

Explaining his decision to resign Benedict said: “To love the church also means having the courage to take difficult decisions, bearing always in mind the good of the church and not of oneself.”

And, in an apparent message to his successor, said that whoever succeeds him “no longer has any privacy. He belongs forever and totally to everyone, to all the church.”

Vatican officials said around 50,000 tickets had been requested for the occasion, which drew many more pilgrims into the broad boulevard leading toward the Vatican from the Tiber River. They estimate that 150,000 people, including around 70 cardinals in their crimson skullcaps, were packed into St Peter’s Square.

“I’ve never felt lonely while carrying the burden and the joy of Peter’s ministry,” the pope also said. “Many people have helped me, the cardinals with their advice, wisdom and friendship, my collaborators starting with the state secretary and the whole Curia, many of whom lend their service in the background, and all of you,” he said.



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