Pope: I’m Stepping Down ‘For The Good Of The Church’

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Pope Benedict XVI sits beside his personal secretary Georg Ganswein during his weekly audience on Feb. 13, 2013 in Vatican City. (credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI sits beside his personal secretary Georg Ganswein during his weekly audience on Feb. 13, 2013 in Vatican City. (credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

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VATICAN CITY (CBSDC) — In his first public appearance since announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI says he is stepping down “for the good of the church.”

The 85-year-old pope got a minute-long standing ovation while speaking Wednesday before a packed audience hall in Vatican City.

“As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005,” Benedict said. “I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.”

He asked those in attendance “to continue to pray for the pope and the church.”

The pope’s announcement Monday that he was stepping down on Feb. 28 sent shockwaves across the world as the Vatican now scrambles to find a new pope.

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington says the next pope will need “a certain level of energy” to travel around the world and be physically present to tend to the faithful.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl said at a news conference Monday that he was shocked by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign. But he said it was a sign of the pope’s humility and love for the church that he concluded he was no longer able to perform his duties.

Wuerl declined to speculate on whether the cardinals might choose a younger or non-European pope, but he said age would be considered. He says the church needs a pope “whose physical energy would allow him to travel.”

He says Benedict appeared physically and mentally fit when he last saw him.

Benedict is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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