Tens of thousands of worshipers and well-wishers turned out for Pope Benedict XVI's final address, as he recalled both times of "joy and light" and great challenge and difficulty.
The pope thanked the faithful, as well as his cardinals and Catholic Church colleagues, and spoke of the true meaning and impact of love, The Associated Press reported.
"To love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself," he said, AP reported.
On Thursday, he will become the first pope in 600 years to resign. His replacement is expected to be announced by Easter.
He also said he found the top church position as a "heavy burden on my shoulders" that he accepted only because God called on him, CBS reported.
"I will continue to accompany the church with my prayers," he vowed, to the St. Peter's Square crowd. "God guides his church, even in difficult times."
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