Pope Benedict bids final public farewell

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said a final public farewell on Thursday before his pontificate ends, telling a crowd in front of his temporary residence outside Rome that he was preparing to enter the last phase of his life.

"As you know today is different to previous ones. I will only be the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church until 8 p.m. (1900 GMT/ 2 p.m. ET)," he said.

"After that I will simply be a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth." (Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Barry Moody)