Pope Resigning

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There is a report just in that Pope Benedict is resigning on February 28.

VATICAN CITY) — Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning.

This would be the fifth time that a Pope has abdicated in the history of the Papacy, the most recent being Pope Gregory XII in 1415.  Further details as they come in.

Update:  Here is the statement of the Pope:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

  Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

  From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


The conclave to elect a new Pope is scheduled for March.

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  1. Wait a minute…he can’t do that…he has to die in office…did anyone tell him that?

    Truly, he will be missed…let us pray for him and the next Pope.

    (Chaput for Pope 2013…just saying.)

  2. Well I am stunned by this development. My guess is that what is motivating this is what Pope Benedict witnessed during Pope John Paul II’s long period of ill health and death. He does not want the Church to go through that with him.

  3. One thing for sure – Pope Benedict XVI won’t be bashing his successor like some presidential-types are wont to do. Deo gratias for that!

    Part of me wonders if his physicians have indicated he only has months to live. I certainly hope that’s not the case – but given the out-of-the-blue announcement this morning (and yes, I know he’s hinted at this very possibility in the past, but come on, this is still a shock), I’m left wondering.

  4. That’s very true, Don. Good point. Fr Lombardi was quoted as saying that he was surprised by the announcement, and that PBXVI’s aides were unaware.

  5. As far as “what should I give up for lent?”, I don’t think I can top this one.

    It took me a while to be convinced this is for real. (I fully expected to see a LarryD-type satire here.) I hope his health is well, and I hope he continues to be influential through his books. Part of me wonders, though, if Benedict XVI does not complete disappear from public view, whether his successor will have to compete for attention on matters of importance or controversy.

  6. Soambot – when I saw the first couple tweets reporting the resignation, my first thought was “The Onion? Eye of the Tiber?” Alas, not to be.

  7. I suppose the Pope could also be motivated to wish to influence the selection of the next Pope, perhaps an African or American Pope.

  8. My wife’s first reaction was that this must have been satire as well.

    I suspect that rather than a short-term illness, rather he has something that he fears will incapacitate for a long time that he feels necessitates such a drastic course.

    Sadly, we will now hear a chorus of liberal Catholics who will be calling for a Pope who will “set a new course” or similar weasel words, though the honest ones will be upfront in their demands for a Pope who will contradict 2,000 years of Church teaching. I am very confident that they will be disappointed.

  9. Given how much else we entrust to the pope, I don’t know why trusting that this is the right decision is so hard, but it is. This will be quite a Lent.

  10. We will never have had a Conclave before with modern mass communication where the old Pope was still living. After his resignation I wager that Pope Benedict will be incommunicado for the length of the Conclave and, if he can manage the feat, for the remainder of his life.

  11. He must be very ill for him to step down. Let’s see what the Holy Spirit will do. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m hoping that Raymond Burke will be our next Pope.

  12. Well Donald who isn’t stunned by this? Interesting times for the Church just got a lot more interesting.

  13. I am still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor! I first saw this news at my local newspaper website as a brief headline stating “Pope announces his resignation”. I clicked on it thinking, “Is this about THE Pope? Nah, it’s got to be about some local official NAMED Pope.” I thank God I did not yet have my morning coffee in hand when I saw that it was, indeed, THE Pope….

    “he has something that he fears will incapacitate for a long time”

    Perhaps Parkinson’s, as John Paul II had?

  14. Donald R McClarey wrote “We will never have had a Conclave before with modern mass communication where the old Pope was still living”

    Tue, but Gregory XII was an influential figure behind the scenes at the Council of Constance, which appointed him bishop of Porto on his resignation

  15. I find the news shocking but not entirely surprising. No good Pope wants to be elected. I recall that as Cardinal Ratzinger, as he increased in his years he had petitioned John Paul II not once but twice to be relieved of his post as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (John Paul II wisely denied him). So I would expect his election in 2005 was as much of a shock and a burden to him as it was to many.

    He carried the cross of his election and has born it well; the contributions of his pontificate — liturgical, intellectual, spiritual — are great.

    Difficult, yes, but I will trust that he has made the right decision.

  16. I feel bereaved. However, the Holy Father intimated on more than one occasion that he would resign should his health deteriorate to the extent that he felt he could no longer carry on. He is the same age as his predecessor was when he died.

    Unlike retired politicians, I don’t think he will be writing his memoirs. But I wouldn’t rule out another book.

  17. You know, we say that the Vatican leaks a lot, but how true is it really? I think of every rumored document that I’ve heard of, that ends up coming out five years later and says something different from what had been reported. And anyway, this wasn’t a Vatican decision. This wasn’t decided by a gaggle of feuding prelates. I’m sure it was personal and prayerful, a “small” decision no matter how big its consequences.

  18. I remember as a very stupid teenager I was initially dismayed at Ratzinger’s selection. I thought he looked like Senator Palpatine, and was clearly not cut from the same cloth as the smiling, charismatic JP2. There’s no way he could follow that act.

    Boy was I wrong. Although he wasn’t as charismatic as John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI was such a profoundly wise and brilliant leader of our Church. In our age of formless spirituality and rampant relativism, this incredible theologian was exactly what the Church, and the world needed. God bless you for your service.

  19. Quite a surprise.
    And so now the speculation will begin on his successor. It will be very difficult, I think, to find another like Benedict – his great intellect and arguably the greatest theologian in the world today.
    Lord, hear our pryaer.

  20. We need to remember, through the times to come, what he said at the end of his letter. He will concentrate his life on prayer for the Holy Church of God.
    A lesson for us, a good and generous thing to do:

    “I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

    Imagine the grave matters that his prayer involve – the integrity of the Church.

  21. Gazing at his portrait on the wall, I remember the profound relief our family felt when “B-16” was elected. He has been our good shepherd ever since. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide, inspire and provide; and yes, this is going to be one very interesting Lent.

  22. Just a reminder. There have been 265 popes over the past 2000 years, for an average of 8 years per papacy. This pope’s reign was going to seem brief after John Paul’s long time in the chair (the second-longest in history) but actually he’s had an average time in office.

  23. I wonder what sort of role the next one will fill? Besides being, well, The Pope….. JPII was a very “showing” type person– a Face that everyone knew, perfect for TV. B16 is a very “explain” type of person– good heavens, just look at his bibliography, let alone the letters!

    Charisma, intellect… what next? A physical sort of person? What will that look like?

    Or is the contrast just because they’re the only two Popes I feel like I know, and if you have two folks one is going to be more outgoing/talkie and one is going to be more wonk/geek/brain/explain?

  24. I will miss Pope Benedict XVI. I hope he enjoys his rest.

    I know it’s everywhere but one place, the word “resign.” I can’t stand it. It makes him sound like a quitter. Only EWTN News has referred the pope’s exit as “retiring.” I think that more accurately describes what is happening.

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