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VALETE Pope: I’m ‘Not Coming Down From the Cross’ Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square with his last audience, February 27. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty)

Pope: I’m ‘Not Coming Down From the Cross’

Pope Benedict XVI told an estimated 150,000 worshipers packed into St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican for his final Mass on Wednesday that he is “not coming down from the cross.” Benedict, the first pope in almost 600 years to retire, recalled the “joy” of the papacy, but also insisted that “to love the church means to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself.” Meanwhile, most of the church’s most powerful cardinals are already in the Vatican to pick Benedict’s successor, and Benedict will meet with them for the final time on Thursday morning. Oddsmakers have Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson at 11–4 odds of being the next pope, and Italy’s Archbishop Angelo Scola with 3–1 odds.

February 27, 2013 6:30 AM