Published On: Fri, Mar 1st, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI bids farewell in historic and emotional exit

For the first time in the past six centuries of Roman Catholicism, a pope appeared at his balcony not to greet the faithful, but to bid them farewell.

Pope Benedict XVI exit“You know this day is different than my previous days,” a smiling Benedict XVI told a crowd gathered before the facade of the papal summer residence in the medieval town of Castel Gandolfo. “I will simply be a pilgrim on the last stop of my pilgrimage on this earth.”

“How do you invent a ritual for the pope leaving the Vatican and the pope leaving office? That’s new for us. But it had to happen,” said Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, a theologian at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rome.

Stefania Miscoli, a 50-year-old nurse, had gone to church in the evening to pray for the departing pontiff. “As long as he’s alive, he will always be my pope,” she said.

Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican on a helicopter to the papal seaside retreat, Castel Gandolfo. Once he arrived at the castle, he greeted the crowd – AP has this transcript of the Pope’s final words:

Dear friends, I’m happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and your well-wishes which do me such good. Thank you for your friendship, and your affection. You know this day is different for me than the preceding ones: I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o’clock this evening and then no more.I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth. But I would still … thank you … I would still with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength, like to work for the common good and the good of the church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your sympathy.

Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the church and the world. Thank you, I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!”


Photo: screenshot of Vatican TV coverage of Pope Benedict XVI exits

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