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Pope thankful for 'prayers'

The Pope has made his first appearance at St Peter's Square window since his resignation announcement and thanked the faithful for their "prayers and support."

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Pope says he 'lacks the physical force' to continue role

A sign in Italian saying 'Thanks Holiness' is seen as Pope Benedict XVI begins his general audience Credit: Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI said he was fully aware of the gravity of his decision to resign as pontiff, but said he was confident the decision would not hurt the Church. He said:

"I took this decision in full freedom for the good of the Church after praying for a long time and examining by conscience before God.

He said he lacked the "physical force" required for the role, saying he was:

"Well aware of the gravity of such an act but at the same time aware of not being able to carry out my ministry with the physical and spiritual force that it requires."

Pope Benedict XVI was greeted loudly as he made his first public appearance since announcing his decision to resign. Credit: Reuters

Today's Ash Wednesday mass, will be his last public celebration of the Eucharist, unless his schedule changes.

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