Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation at end of month

[Episcopal News Service] Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign from the papal office on Feb. 28 because, he said, in recent months his strength “has deteriorated … to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.” He became pope in April 2005. He is currently 85 years old and becomes the first pope in modern history to resign while in office, the last being Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.

The full text of the pope’s declaration follows. A statement from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is here. Other reactions are available here.


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

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

Comments

  1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    This is an admirable, if surprising, action on the part of the pope. Most importantly, it shows that he is committed to the good of the community over himself. Knowing that he is unable to produce the physical and perhaps mental energy necessary to do his job well, he is willing to step aside for a more vigorous leader who can more fully attend the needs of this colossal institution. This probably would have been a good idea in the last few years of Pope John Paul II. We need more of this sense of shared community in the Episcopal Church too. Secondly, it shows that he is willing to crack the highly encrusted traditions of the Roman church, the first pope to voluntarily give up power since 1415 (and that one was under unique circumstances). Change does come to the Vatican, sometimes in the most unexpected ways and from the most unexpected people. I say thank you Pope Benedict XVI for your wisdom on this issue.

  2. Curt Zimmerman says:

    I just read the full text of the pope’s statement for the first time. He doesn’t speak of retirement; he says “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.” Maybe he goes back to being a Cardinal bishop.

    • walter combs says:

      To my knowledge, there has not been a decision made as to what he his title or office will be. Your right, he doesn’t talk of retirement but renunciation as the Bishop of Rome. This is fascinating and speculation and political intrigue are intense, also.

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