VATICAN CITY (NEWS1130) – Pope Benedict XVI has recalled moments of “joy and light” during his papacy but also times of great difficulty in an emotional, final general audience in St. Peter’s Square before retiring.

Benedict thanked his cardinals, colleagues and ordinary faithful for their support and for respecting his decision to become the first pope in 600 years to resign.

He said that “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.”

The Vatican‘s Greg Burke says Benedict believes it’s time for someone with more energy to do the job. “He has faith; that’s what he showed us today in his speech; above all he has faith. This is not my church, it’s not our church, it’s the church of Christ.”

Tens of thousands of people toting banners saying “Grazie!” _ “thank you” _ jammed the piazza to bid Benedict farewell during his last audience _ the appointment he has kept each week to teach the world about the Catholic faith.