Pope, in final message, says he's a simple pilgrim - WFLA News Channel 8

Pope, in final message, says he's a simple pilgrim

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VATICAN CITY (WFLA) -

Pope Benedict XVI has greeted the faithful for the last time as pope, telling well-wishers gathered at the Vatican's vacation retreat that he is beginning the final stage of his life as a "simple pilgrim," hours before he becomes the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
    
Benedict arrived at Castel Gandolfo after an emotional sendoff from the Vatican, where his closest aide wept by his side as he bade farewell to Vatican officials gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Swiss Guards standing by at attention.
    
Bells tolled as he left the Vatican by helicopter and did a fly-by around St. Peter's Square. They tolled anew as he arrived in Castel Gandolfo, where the central piazza was jammed with people eager to capture the historic moment.

Benedict is becoming the first pontiff to retire in nearly 600 years. Only a handful of popes have ever done so.       

The last was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism, a dispute among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it.

Meanwhile, Catholics in the United States are conflicted over what they want from the next pope.
    
In a survey days after Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, Catholics split over whether they hope his successor will generally preserve tradition or make changes in Catholic teaching.
    
A majority of Catholics said the next pontiff should allow priests to marry, but people who attend Mass more frequently are less certain about the idea.
    
Most U.S. Catholics also said it would be good for the church if the new pope came from a developing country. Catholicism is growing dramatically in Africa, as well as in Asia and Latin America, while the faith is shrinking in the West.
    
The survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

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