TODAY   |  February 24, 2013

Joy, intrigue as pope gives final Sunday blessing

The pope told a crowd of 100,000 people Sunday that God is calling on him to dedicate himself to prayer. The pontiff is retiring as a new scandal involving Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien makes headlines across Britain. NBC’s Ann Thompson reports.

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>>> huge crowds filled st. peter's square for pope benedict xvi 's final sunday blessing. the vatican is slamming some media reports about why the pope chose to resign now. anne thompson outside vatican city with the latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica . a mixture of joy and intrigue here in vatican city . catholics and the curious jammed st. peter's square to hear pope benedict 's final sunday blessing. the 100,000 people who attended on got not only a blessing but heard the pope shed light on why he resigned. he said that god called him to the mountain to live a life of more prayer and meditation. he wasn't going to abandon the church. the pontiff said god asked him to live this life with the same kind of dedication, but to do so in a way that was more appropriate to his age and strength. now, this very joyous event took place against a background of scandal. there are new headlines in britain this morning, three priests and a former priest, accused the scottish cardinal keith o'brien of inappropriate behavior going back some 30 years. they want cardinal o'brien to resign immediately before he comes to rome to vote for the new pope. i asked the papal spokesperson about this today. he told me that the pope will be informed of this matter this afternoon and that tomorrow the vatican will issue a statement. erica .

>> and, anne, we're hearing plenty about the scandal at home in the u.s. the former archbishop of los angeles . and also facing problems with a priest sexual abuse scandal there.

>> reporter: he is. that's cardinal roger mahony . he was depossessed yesterday for almost four hours. asked by lawyers what he knew about a visiting mexican priest who was accused of abusing some 26 children in the 1980s . court documents released earlier this year show that cardinal mahony did play a role in shielding abusive priests. some u.s. catholics called on mahony not to come to rome to vote on the new pope, but he says he will participate. erica .

>> anne thompson , thank you.