A Vatican Swiss guard stands in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI is preparing for his final general audience, the weekly appointment he kept with the faithful and tourists to teach them about the Catholic faith. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has recalled moments of "joy and light" during his papacy but also times of great difficulty in an emotional, final general audience in St. Peter's Square before retiring.
Benedict thanked his cardinals, colleagues and ordinary faithful for their support and for respecting his decision to become the first pope in 600 years to resign. He said that "to love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself."
Tens of thousands of people toting banners saying "Grazie!" -- "thank you" -- jammed the piazza to bid Benedict farewell during his last audience -- the appointment he has kept each week to teach the world about the Catholic faith.