Benedict says pray for me and next pope

Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:54am EST
 

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, speaking before a larger than usual crowd at his penultimate Sunday address, asked the faithful to pray for him and for the next pope.

The crowd in St. Peter's Square chanted "Long live the pope!," waved banners and broke into sustained applause as he spoke from his window. The 85-year-old Benedict, who will resign on February 28, thanked the crowd in several languages.

The Vatican estimated the crowd at more than 50,000 people, larger than the size which turns out at a normal Sunday address not linked to a specific liturgical feast.

Speaking in Spanish, he said: "I beg you to continue praying for me and for the next pope".

It was not clear why the pope chose Spanish to make the only specific reference to his upcoming resignation.

A number of cardinals have said they would be open to the possibility of a pope from the developing world, be it Latin America, Africa or Asia.

After his address, the pope retired into the Vatican for a scheduled, week-long spiritual retreat and will not make any public appearances until next Sunday.

Speaking in Italian in an earlier part of his address about the season of Lent, in which Christians reflect on their failings and seek guidance in prayer, the pope spoke of the difficulty of making important decisions.   Continued...

 
A newspaper seller shows newspapers with photographs of Pope Benedict XVI outside the Vatican February 17, 2013. Thousands of people are expected to gather in St. Peter's Square for Pope Benedict's Sunday Angelus prayer. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi