Pope makes first public appearance since bombshell
VATICAN CITY (AFP, REUTERS) - Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance Wednesday since the shock announcement of his resignation, sticking with his schedule by presiding over his weekly general audience.
Pope Benedict received an ecstatic welcome when he entered the Vatican's audience hall for one of his last appearances before the end of the month, when he will become the first pope in centuries to resign.
The pope told the packed hall of nearly 8,000 faithful he was aware of the gravity of his decision but was also aware of his diminishing spiritual and physical strength.
Tickets to the event in the Vatican's Paul VI auditorium were issued well in advance, so several thousand pilgrims experienced the historic moment out of sheer luck just two days after the 85-year-old Benedict said he would step down at the end of the month.