Thousands Attend Pope Benedict's Final General Audience - New York News

Thousands Attend Pope Benedict's Final General Audience

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VATICAN CITY -

Thousands of people packed the square outside of Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City Wednesday to say goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope arrived by car and greeted the cheering crowd as he made his way to the stage to hold his final general audience address.

Many in the crowd waved signs and banners with messages of thanks.

During the final general audience, the pope addressed the challenges he faced as head of the Catholic church for nearly eight years.

"Loving the church also means to have the courage to make difficult, and arduous choices, having always in front of us the good of the church and not ourselves," Pope Benedict said.

A number of cardinals attended the farewell address, many of whom arrived earlier in the day.

The College of Cardinals will now be busy with the task of picking the new pope after Benedict steps down Thursday evening.

On his final day as pontiff, the pope is scheduled to meet the Catholic Cardinals one last time before he is flown by helicopter from the Vatican to his temporary residence, the papal summer residence, outside of Rome.

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