After the 15-minute helicopter trip to Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI offered a word of thanks to the thousands of people who traveled there to support him in has last hours as Pope.
“I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your sympathy that does so much good for me. Thank you for your friendship and love,” the Pope said at around 5:30 p.m. from the balcony of his villa.
“You know that today is different than previous ones. I’m no longer the Pope. Until 8:00 p.m. I am, but then afterwards I am no longer Pope of the Catholic Church,” he said.
Pope Benedict then offered a window into how he sees this stage of his life.
“I’m simply a pilgrim that is starting the last stage of his pilgrimage on Earth,” he remarked, “but I would still like with my heart, with my love, with my prayer, with my reflection, with all my inner strength to work for the common good of the Church and of humanity, and I feel very supported by your sympathy.
“Let’s go ahead together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world,” he said as he finished his brief greeting.
Pope Benedict XVI then gave his last papal blessing to the crowd.
“Thank you. And now I impart to you the Lord’s blessing with my whole heart. May God bless you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank you and good night. Thanks to all of you.”