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Extracts from Pope Benedict XVI's last speech

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday delivered his final public speech at a general audience in St Peter's Square on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Here are key extracts from the pope's speech in which he drew an analogy between his pontificate and a Biblical story about Jesus Christ calming a storm when he was sailing in a fishing boat with his disciples in the Sea of Galilee:

-- Stormy waters --

"The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good. There were also moments when there were stormy waters and headwinds."

"But I always knew that God was in that boat and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, is not ours, but is his and he will not let it sink."

"This was and is a certainty and nothing can obscure it. And that is why today my heart is filled with gratitude to God.... I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian."

-- Resignation --

"In these last few months, I have felt my strength diminish and I have asked God with insistency in my prayers to illuminate me with his light and make me take the best decision."

"I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, painful choices, always keeping the good of the Church in mind and not ourselves."

-- Never alone --

"The pope is never alone, I feel that now once again in such a powerful way that it touches my heart. The pope belongs to everyone and many people feel very close to him."

"It is true that I receive letters from the grandees of this world -- from heads of state, from religious leaders, from representatives of the world of culture. But I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write simply from their hearts and make me feel their affection, which stems from being together with Jesus Christ in the Church."

"These people write to me like brothers or sisters or sons or daughters, with a very affectionate sense of family. This is where we can put a finger on what the Church is -- not an organisation, not an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body."

-- Future --

"Whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs forever and totally to everyone, to the whole Church... My decision to renounce the active practice of my ministry does not change this. I am not returning to a private life -- a life of trips, meetings, receptions and conferences. I am not abandoning the cross but I am remaining in a new way next to the Crucified Lord."

"I no longer have the power of the office of the government of the Church but I will remain in service of prayer within, as it were, the enclosure of St Peter's."

"I will continue to accompany the Church with prayer and reflection."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130227/extracts-pope-benedict-xvis-last-speech