Pope Benedict XVI as he arrived on the altar in St. Peter's Square Wednesday for his last general audience.
Credit Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images
Bidding an emotional farewell to a huge crowd gathered in The Vatican's St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI indirectly acknowledged Wednesday that his nearly 8 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church have not always been easy.
A church group prepares to pray for Pope Benedict XVI on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica on Tuesday.
Credit Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
It's settled. When the pontiff steps down Thursday, he'll still be known as Benedict XVI and have the title of "pope emeritus." In public, he'll wear an understated white cassock and stylish brown shoes from Mexico.
-- Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric has resigned and will not be taking part in the conclave of cardinals that will select the next pope. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports from London, "Cardinal Keith O'Brien's decision was announced a day after revelations that he behaved inappropriately with several priests."
When Pope Benedict XVI said he was stepping down, he broke a tradition that had been in place since 1415. The pope, who gave his final blessing Sunday, leaves the Catholic Church in the midst of changing social views and demographic shifts among its followers.