Pope recalls 'joy,' difficulties in final audience

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI basked in an emotional send-off today from an estimated 150,000 people at his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square, recalling moments of “joy and light” during his papacy and also times of difficulty when “it seemed like the Lord was sleeping.”

The crowd jammed the piazza to bid Benedict farewell and hear his final speech as pontiff. In this appointment, which he has kept each week for eight years to teach the world about the Catholic faith, Benedict thanked his flock for respecting his retirement, which takes effect Thursday.

Benedict explained once again why he was becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign and urging the faithful to pray for his successor.

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