VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI says he was surprised when he was elected pontiff, but accepted the role even though the challenge seemed greater than his strength.

Benedict was asked by a curious child at a Vatican audience with thousands of children on Saturday if he ever thought he would grow up to be come pontiff.

He replied that he found it difficult to understand why the Lord would have picked him, once an “ingenuous, small town boy,” for the post.

But, says Benedict: “I accepted it, even though it seemed to me to be something that went beyond my strength.”

He also reminisced about being an altar boy when he was 8 or 9, and how he and his friends were, as he put it, “no saints,” and sometimes even had fights in the small village in Germany where he grew up.


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