February 28, 2013 / 4:58 PM / 6 years ago

Pope Benedict bids final public farewell

Correcting Byline - A helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI takes off from inside the Vatican on its way to the papal summer residence at Castelgandolfo, February 28, 2013. Pope Benedict slips quietly from the world stage on Thursday after a private last goodbye to his cardinals and a short flight to a country palace to enter the final phase of his life "hidden from the world". REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said a final public farewell on Thursday before his pontificate ends, telling a crowd in front of his temporary residence outside Rome that he was preparing to enter the last phase of his life.

“As you know today is different to previous ones. I will only be the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church until 8 p.m. (1900 GMT/ 2 p.m. ET),” he said.

“After that I will simply be a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Barry Moody

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