Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful at the end of the Ash Wednesday mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a solemn period of 40 days of prayer and self-denial leading up to Easter. Pope Benedict XVI told thousands of faithful Wednesday that he was resigning for "the good of the church", an extraordinary scene of a pope explaining himself to his flock that unfolded in his first appearance since dropping the bombshell announcement. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is continuing his farewell tour with an off-the-cuff meeting with Roman priests, an annual encounter that has taken on poignant new meaning with his impending resignation.
The Vatican has said Benedict would reflect Thursday on his personal experiences as a young theological expert attending the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world.
Benedict spent much of his 8-year pontificate seeking to correct what he considers the misinterpretation of Vatican II, insisting that it wasn't a revolutionary break from the past, as liberal Catholics paint it, but a renewal and reawakening of the best traditions of the ancient church.
During an emotional final public Mass on Wednesday, Benedict lamented the internal rivalries that have "defiled the face of the church."