VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict bid an emotional farewell at his last general audience on Wednesday, acknowledging the "rough seas" that marked his papacy "when it seemed that the Lord was sleeping".
Here are excerpts from his last address as pope to more than 150,000 people in St Peter's Square translated by Reuters from Italian:
"I feel I am carrying all of you with me in prayer ... gathering together every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. I gather everything and everyone in prayer to entrust them to the Lord, because we have full knowledge of his will in every wisdom and spiritual knowledge, and so that we can behave in a manner worthy of him and his love, so that every good work bears fruit."
"There were moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy ... there were moments, as there were throughout the history of the Church, when the seas were rough and the wind blew against us and it seemed that the Lord was sleeping."
"I took this step in the full knowledge of its gravity and rarity but with a profound serenity of spirit".
"In these last few months I felt that my strength had diminished, and I asked God earnestly, in prayer, to enlighten me to make the best decision, not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I took this step in the full knowledge of its gravity and its newness, but with a deep serenity of the spirit. To love the Church also means having the courage to make difficult choices, painful choices, always putting the good of the Church before our good."
"I am not returning to private life, a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I am not coming down from the cross, but remaining in a new way before the crucified Lord. I don't have the power to govern the Church anymore, but in prayerful service, I remain, so to speak, in the paddock of St. Peter"
"I will continue to follow the path of the Church with prayer and reflection ... I ask you to remember me to God, and above all to pray for the cardinals, called to such a weighty task, and for the new successor of the apostle Peter. May the Lord accompany him with light and the force of his spirit".
Text read in English:
"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. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history."
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Philip Pullella)