Pope Benedict XVI Makes Final Public Appearance

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Tens of thousands gathered in St. Peters Square in Rome for Pope Benedict XVI's final public appearance ahead of his official resignation on Thursday.

It is the first time in 600 years a pope is choosing to say goodbye.

In his final public appearance, Pope Benedict thanked the faithful for respecting his decision to resign.

Benedict made several rounds of St. Peter's Square in a triumphant farewell as crowds cheered wildly for the retiring pontiff.

What's next for Pope Benedict? Maureen Ferguson, with The Catholic Association, has that and more, on CBN Newswatch, Feb. 27.

Thousands traveled from around the world for their chance to say goodbye to the leader of the Catholic Church, with some spectators lining up before sunrise to witness the once in a lifetime event.

"It's history in the making," said student Jamie Zell, who traveled from Santa Barbara.

Fellow student Julia Hawkes called it a "monumental" event.

"This is such a monumental time," Hawkes said. "No pope has resigned the way he has done. It's something we have to see."

During his farewell address, the pope recalled the joy and light during his papacy, but he also spoke about difficult times that were plagued by scandal.

The latest involves new allegations against Britain's senior cardinal, Keith O'Brian.

Four priests in Scotland told a British newspaper O'Brian made unwanted sexual advances. The cardinal denied the charges.

"You know whenever you have a transition, you get tons of rumors and all these whispers, most of them are not true," New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said.

Benedict will live in a converted convent and become pope emeritus. He will give up his trademark red shoes as he returns to a simpler scholastic life.

On Thursday, the pope will say goodbye to the cardinals before departing by helicopter to his retreat.

The cardinals will begin meeting Monday to decide on the date for the conclave to elect the next pope.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.