WASHINGTON (WUSA9)-- They gathered for mass in the lower level of the National Catholic Shrine today, hours after Pope Benedict XVI gave his final farewell in Saint Peter's Square.
In a surprise move the Pontiff who is voluntarily resigning tomorrow evening said "When the water was rough and the Lord seemed to sleep. But even as the church passes through stormy seas, God will not let her sink."
Many took this to mean he was referring to the child sexual abuse scandal and there could be more public scandal on the way.
Outside the Shrine and on the adjacent campus of Catholic University the faithful thanked Benedict and applauded his decision to step down for age and health reasons.
They predicted a change in style with a new Pope but no changes in church doctrine and policies.
Theologian Christopher Ruddy says the next Pope will need a thick skin and knees for praying as he tackles the sex abuse and administrative scandals that Benedict will soon leave behind.