Pope Benedict XVI said goodbye this morning from St. Peter’s Square where he encouraged thousands of worshippers to trust in a “live” Church that God will not let it “sink”.
“The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind was against us, as in the whole history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to sleep, “said Benedict XVI, 85, who also confessed that in the past eight years he has lived hectic days.
Under tight security, groups of pilgrims cheered the German Pope singing, clapping and taking photos and videos.” A pope is not only in Peter’s boat and so I want to thank all those who have accompanied me. I’ve never felt alone” said the Pope from the central platform of the esplanade, with a serene and sometimes smiling face.
The Pope explained that “he has not abandon the cross”, in an indirect response to the confusion and criticism that his decision has raised among Catholics.
“I have taken this step and realize its gravity, as its novelty. Loving the Church also means making difficult decisions,” said the pontiff, speaking to the crowd: “Today we see how the Church is alive, in a time when many speak of its decline.”
For a moment he addressed in Spanish to the faithful of Latin American countries and Spain, asking them to pray for the conclave that will elect his successor.
Tomorrow afternoon, Benedict will head to the Vatican heliport to go to Castel Gandolfo, 25 miles south of Rome. The next day will begin the so-called “congregations”, the previous meetings during which the cardinals begin to define the profile of the new Pope.