Pope Benedict XVI made his last public appearance as pontiff today at Italys Castel Gandolfo, the seaside papal resort town where, starting tonight, Benedict will be in seclusion until his successor is chosen.
"Thank you for your friendship and for your affection," he told a cheering crowd as he spoke from a balcony. "I am no longer the pope."
Benedict announced February 11 that he would step down, becoming the first living pope to resign in 598 years.
Benedict, 85, said he was resigning because of his age. He has pledged unconditional obedience to the next pope, who the Vatican hopes to have in place in time for the week of services leading up to Easter Sunday on March 31
His sudden announcement led to speculation that his move was in some way linked to brewing scandals within the Church.
Benedict will eventually move to a small monastery within the Vatican grounds.
Follow CNNs complete coverage of the popes final day and what lies ahead for the Catholic Church on CNN TV, http://CNN.com and CNN Mobile.
Live Blog: Pope says farewells -- http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/28/pope-benedict-bids-goodbye-to-cardinals/
A stormy last week -- http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/25/world/europe/vatican-archbishop-resigns/index.html
Was Benedict the right man for the job? -- http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/27/was-benedict-xvi-the-right-man-for-the-job/
Interactive: 10 possible contenders -- http://cnnpreview.turner.com:82/interactive/2013/02/world/pope-contenders/index.html
Q&A: How is a new pope picked? -- http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/world/europe/pope-selection-process/index.html
iReport: What will this mean for the Catholic Church? -- http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/925363
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