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Pope celebrates last public Mass as pontiff

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Pope Benedict XVI led his weekly general audience at the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican today. Looking tired but serene, Pope Benedict XVI told thousands of faithful today that he was stepping down for "the good of the church," speaking in his first public appearance since dropping the bombshell announcement of his resignation.
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VATICAN CITY » Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating his last public Mass as pontiff, presiding over Ash Wednesday services inside the packed St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Looking tired, the 85-year-old Benedict was wheeled down the central aisle as a choir sang, preceded by dozens of cardinals.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the most solemn season in the church’s liturgical calendar that ends with Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

Wearing heavy purple vestments, Benedict referred to his pending Feb. 28 resignation in his homily, asking for the prayers of the faithful.

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