On Dec. 31, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI arrives to pray in front of the nativity crib in Saint Peter's Square after celebrating the Vespers and Te Deum prayers in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013 announced he will resign on February 28, a Vatican spokesman told AFP, which will make him the first pope to do so in centuries. AFP PHOTO / FILES / ANDREAS SOLARO
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has given his pontificate's final Sunday blessing from his studio window to the cheers of tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square.
Benedict says even though he's retiring on Thursday from the papacy, the first pope in 600 years to do so, he's "not abandoning the church." Instead he says he'll serve the church with the same dedication he has till now, but will do so in a way "more suitable to my age and my strength." Benedict, 85, will spend his last years in prayer, meditation and seclusion in a monastery on Vatican City's grounds.
He has one more public appearance, at his weekly audience on Wednesday in the square.
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