Domenica, 23 Settembre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Benedict recalls 'rough water' before 150,000 people

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, February 27 - Benedict XVI told a
crowd of around 150,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square
for his last general audience as pope on Wednesday that it had
seemed as if God was "sleeping" in some moments of "rough
waters" for the Church in recent years.
In his penultimate day as pope, his words recalled scandals
in recent years ranging from priest sex abuse to the pope's own
butler leaking confidential documents to the press, both of
which Vatican insiders have speculated prompted Benedict to
become the first pontiff to step down in six centuries.
Benedict told the faithful Wednesday that during his papacy
"the Church has had moments of joy but also moments that were
not easy" in which "the waters were rough, there was a headwind
and the Lord seemed to be sleeping". But he added that "I always
knew that the Lord was in that boat".
The outgoing pope was cheered as he entered the square
waving to the faithful from the popemobile.
Flags from countries from all around the world could be
seen in the big crowd.
The end of his address was received by a long ovation.
Benedict reiterated that the shocking decision he announced
earlier this month to step down from a position that is
traditionally for life was made for the good of the Church.
The 85-year-old said he did not have the physical and
mental strength to continue to lead the world's 1.2 billion
Catholics.
On Wednesday he said the decision was made: "in full
awareness of its seriousness, but also with a deep serenity of
spirit...I asked God to enlighten me to make the right decision
for the good of the Church".
He also responded to those who criticised the move on the
grounds that you "don't climb down from the cross".
"I am not abandoning the cross" he said, adding he stayed
attached to the "crucified Lord" in a "new way".
He also called on the faithful to pray for the cardinals
who will elect the new pope at the upcoming conclave and for his
eventual successor.
About 70 cardinals were in attendance Wednesday, Vatican
Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
A total of 115 cardinals are expected to take part in the
conclave, which cannot begin until all are present in Rome.
No precise date has been announced, and Vatican watchers
say it could start as soon as next week.
In the run up British bookmakers say the odds are good that
the new pope would be Italian and not from the developing world
as previously predicted.
According to William Hill bookmakers on Wednesday, the odds
that an Italian cardinal would rise to the ranks of pontiff were
four to 1.8.
The likeliest of 'papabile' candidates is Milan Archibishop
Angelo Scola with four to one odds, followed by Vatican
Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone at six to one, and the head
of the Italian bishops conference (CEI) Angelo Bagnasco at eight
to one, William Hill said.
"At this point in time, those placing bets believe the man
to succeed Benedict XVI will be Italian, instead of a South
American or an African, as was predicted initially," a spokesman
for William Hill told betting publication Agipronews.

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