Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called for “real renewal” in the Catholic Church at an emotional farewell ceremony with priests from his Rome diocese and told them he would be “hidden from the world” after he resigns at the end of this month.

The pontiff spoke of his experiences as a young reformer priest and the “enthusiasm” of the Council, which changed the face of Catholicism by overhauling archaic rituals like mass in Latin. The Pope has since turned far more conservative in his outlook and on Thursday he condemned false expectations of radical change from the Council, saying they had created “a lot of misery”.

Thousands of tearful priests, nuns and ordinary faithful applauded him at the Ash Wednesday mass. Cardinals thanked the outgoing pontiff for his service, doffing their mitres as a mark of respect.

His final homily was a hard-hitting one, condemning the “hypocrisy” of those who use their religion just for show. — AFP