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Pope Benedict XVI's Final Public Audience, As Resignation Looms



VATICANCITY- Pope Benedict XVI presided over his final papal audience Wednesday before a crowd of some 200,000, reaffirming his own faith and a conviction that his historic decision to resign was for the good of the Church.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that the faithful began flocking to St.Peter’s Square early Wednesday for the for 10:30 a.m. weekly general audience. Benedict, 85, who cited his lack of strength to continue in the papacy, is set to step down Thursday at 8 p.m. local time.

Ecco il #Papa. Il suo ultimo giro della piazza, il suo ultimo abbraccio con la gente twitter.com/pierovietti/st…

— Piero Vietti (@pierovietti) February 27, 2013

The pope spoke about the joy of being a Christian, a phrase that was sent out just after the audience in what may be his last tweet on the @Pontifex handle:

If only everyone could experience the joy of being Christian, being loved by God who gave his Son for us!

— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) February 27, 2013

The Pope thanked everyone for their understanding about his decision to resign, and said he has not felt alone once since he announced it. “I made this difficult choice for the sake of the Church, having always put His will before my own.”

Speaking in Italian, French, English, German and Latin, Benedict said that God will guide the Church in the coming weeks as it picks his successor. He stressed the importance of trust during the proceedings, especially when faced with personal or collective difficulties.

“At this moment I have great faith," he said. "The community of believers hears and receives the word of God and this is my faith.

“On April 19, eight years ago when I accepted the Petrine ministry, I had a solid assurance... in that moment my words were ‘Lord, why are you asking this of me?’ It is a heavy weight that you’re putting on my shoulders but if you are asking me to accept it, surely you will help me with it as well as with all my weaknesses.”

Tu sei sacerdote per sempre (Sal 110, 4) twitter.com/CardRavasi/sta…

— Gianfranco Ravasi (@CardRavasi) February 27, 2013

("You are a priest forever," Ravisi, an Italian Cardinal, is considered a potential successor)

Earlier, as he arrived at the audience, the Pope circled St. Peter's Square in his ‘popemobile’, Benedict was said to be eager to greet as many people as he could, writes RAI News24. The Pontiff was applauded, and one person was heard calling out: “Holy Father, we love you, pray for us”; another said: “You are Peter and we young people love you.”

The crowd boasted flags from all around the world, including from China, Brazil, Egypt, Bolivia, the U.S. and Cameroon, reports La Stampa. This audience was his 348th, according to La Repubblica. Every Wednesday morning, as is custom, he met with pilgrims and other faithful. The Rome paper reports that a total of 5,116,600 people attended all of Benedict XVI’s audiences during his eight-year papacy.

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How Gen Z Is Breaking Europe's Eternal Alcohol Habit

Young people across Europe are drinking less, which is driving a boom in non-alcoholic alternatives, and the emergence of new, more complex markets.

photo of a beer half full on a bar

German beer, half-full?

Katarzyna Skiba

Updated Dec. 6, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

PARIS — From Irish whisky to French wine to German beer, Europe has long been known for alcohol consumption. Of the top 10 countries for drinking, nine are in the European Union, according to the World Health Organization.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

But that may be starting to change, especially among Gen Z Europeans, who are increasingly drinking less or opting out entirely, out of concern for their health or problematic alcohol use. A recent French study found the proportion of 17-year-olds who have never consumed alcohol has multiplied, from less than 5% to nearly 20% over the past two decades.

The alcohol-free trend is propping up new markets for low- or zero-alcoholic beverages, including in one of Europe’s beer capitals: Germany.

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