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Pope bids emotional farewell at last general audience

Pope Benedict arrives in St. Peter's Square, where tens of thousands of pilgrims have gathered to bid him a final farewell. On Thursday Benedict will step down, becoming the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. He said he understood the gravity of his decision, but that he had made it for the good of the Roman Catholic Church, feeling unfit to lead in his old age. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POPE BENEDICT SAYING: "The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God's will and a deep love of Christ's Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope." After Benedict officially abdicates, Church cardinals will begin consultations to choose his successor. Many in the crowd, which streamed into the square across the Tiber River and along nearby streets, held up banners thanking the pope and wishing him well. Benedict's tenure as pope saw the Church beset by crises over child abuse by priests and a leak of confidential Vatican documents showing corruption and rivalry among Vatican officials.

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