On his last full day as pope, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a personal and emotional farewell address. Under a clear blue sky with temperatures in the low 40s, the pope arrived for his last public audience shortly after 10:30 a.m., standing and waving for almost 15 minutes as his white popemobile made a circuit through the square. Cheering pilgrims waved national flags and banners with slogans such as “always with the pope” and “you will never be alone.” During his address, he thanked the faithful around the world for their support and assured them that he would remain in their service even in retirement.
“I will continue to accompany the path of the church with prayer and reflection, with that dedication to the Lord and to his bride that I have tried to live every day till now and that I want to live always,” the pope told the estimated crowd of 150,000 that spilled over from St. Peter’s Square into the Via della Conciliazione.
The pope said his pontificate was a time of “joy and light, but also difficult moments. The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light breeze, days in which the catch of fish has been abundant.”
“There have also been moments in which the waters were turbulent and the wind contrary, as throughout the history of the church, and the Lord seemed to be asleep,” he said. “But I have always known that the Lord is in that boat and that the boat of the church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink.”
At the end of his talk, the crowd gave him a two-minute standing ovation, which he acknowledged by smiling broadly and standing with outstretched arms.
Click on these links for a full text of the Pope's message in English and Spanish.