Pope Benedict XVI delivered an emotional final public address to tens of thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. Read the full text here.
Here are some highlights:
On becoming pope: “When, almost eight years ago, on April 19, , I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry … the words that resounded in my heart were: ‘Lord, what do you ask of me? It’s a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me’ – and the Lord really has guided me.”
On the “difficult moments” of his papacy: “[These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: 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 against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep.”
On his enduring faith: “Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.”
On his decision to retire: “In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind.”
On his future: “There is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds.”