In his first public appearance since announcing his resignation on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI said, "I took this decision in full freedom for the good of the Church after praying for a long time and examining my conscience before God." He expressed confidence that the church would not be harmed by his decision, voicing his "certainty that the church belongs to Christ, who will never stop guiding it and caring for it." The Vatican announced that a conclave to elect his successor will start sometime between March 15 and March 20.
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