Pope Makes First Public Appearance Since Announcing Resignation

In his first public appearance since he stunned the world with his announcement that he will be stepping down at the end of the month, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday said his planned resignation is for “the good of the church,” the Associated Press reported.

“As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005,” the pope said, after he received a minute-long standing ovation from the rapturous crowd at an audience hall in Vatican City.  “I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.”

Later in the day, Benedict will preside over Ash Wednesday services.