Worshippers who packed St. Patrick's Cathedral Sunday got to see Cardinal Timothy Dolan one last time before he heads to the Vatican City next week.
Dolan will leave Tuesday to join the group of cardinals who will elect the next pope.
After the mass, Dolan addressed the rumors in Italian media that Pope Benedict XVI has not been honest about his reason for resigning his post.
"I think we ought to take him at his word. I really do," Dolan said. "And all this other speculation, I think, is just that, speculation."
The Pope will officially vacate his office Thursday night, becoming the first pope in 600 years to do so.
Benedict made his final Sunday appearance in St. Peter's Square where he reassured the faithful his decision to leave is God willing.
"The lord is calling me to go up the mountain to devote myself a lot more to prayer now and to meditation. But this doesn't doesn't mean abandoning the church," Benedict told worshipers.
On Saturday, the Vatican spoke out about the rumors calling them deplorable and a distraction from the coming conclave.
As for local parishoners, many seemed hopeful about the future of the church no matter who is chosen as the next Pontiff, perhaps even Dolan himself.
"You gotta cheer for your home team. I would say yea he'd be the guy to go for, but I don't know if they would go with an American or not, or they're gonna go back to an Italian or somebody else, not sure," said one parishioner.
Pope Benedict XVI will make his final public appearance on Wednesday.
Officials are hoping to have a new pope named by Easter Sunday on March 31.