Pope Benedict XVI thanked Poles on Wednesday for the “warm reception” he received when he visited Poland in 2006 and asked for their prayers on his retirement.
“I thank you for your presence here in Rome over all these years, for your prayers and tokens of sympathy,” Pope Benedict XVI said during his last General Audience to around 150,000 of the Roman Catholic faithful in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
“I thank you for my pilgrimage to Poland at the start of my pontificate and the warm reception during that visit. Having the great advocate in the person of the Blessed John Paul II, you remain firmly in faith. I ask you for prayers for me and for the Church,” he added.
In a sometimes emotional speech, Pope Benedict XVI referred to “rough seas” he has travelled during his pontificate.
“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,” he said.
In his eight years as Pontiff, the Pope visited more than 20 countries. One of the first was to Poland, in May 2006, the homeland of his predecessor, John Paul II.
As a former member of the Hitler Youth, he visited the site of the German Nazi Auschwitz death camp, and called himself “a son of the German people,” asking: “Where was God in those days?”
Pope Benedict XVI becomed ‘Pope Emeritus’ when his pontificate ended after becoming the first pope to stand down in over 600 years.
Four Poles are to be among the College of Cardinals in March to choose a new head of the Roman Catholic church, including Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko and Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)