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Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI to resign this month

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a mass for priests and nuns in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 2. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a mass for priests and nuns in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 2. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

TEXT OF ANNOUNCEMENT

"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 barque 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."

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign on Feb. 28 because he was simply too infirm to carry on — 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 on Monday morning.

He emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires "both strength of mind and body."

"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," he told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by 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 barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths 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."

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants.

Benedict called his choice "a decision of great importance for the life of the church."

The move sets the stage for the Vatican to hold a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a pope doesn't have to be observed.

There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner — the same situation when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

When Benedict was elected pope at age 78 — already the oldest pope elected in nearly 300 years — he had been already planning to retire as the Vatican's chief orthodoxy watchdog to spend his final years writing in the "peace and quiet" of his native Bavaria.

Contenders to be his successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's office for bishops.

Longshots include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Although Dolan is popular and backs the pope's conservative line, the general thinking is that the Catholic Church doesn't need a pope from a "superpower."

All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a pope has been elected.

Popes are allowed to resign; church law specifies only that the resignation be "freely made and properly manifested."

Only a handful have done so, however and there's good reason why it hasn't become commonplace: Might the existence of two popes — even when one has stepped down — lead to divisions and instability in the church? Might a new resignation precedent lead to pressures on future popes to quit at the slightest hint of infirmity?

Benedict himself raised the possibility of resigning if he were simply too old or sick to continue on in 2010, when he was interviewed for the book "Light of the World."

"If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign," Benedict said.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had an intimate view as Pope John Paul II, with whom he had worked closely for nearly a quarter-century, suffered through the debilitating end of his papacy.

Comments

FordGalaxy 1 year, 2 months ago

I figured when they elected him that his would be a short reign as Pope. He was older to start with.

But, if the prophecy of the Popes is truly an accurate accounting of the Papal history, then we only have one Pope to go. The final pope on St. Malacy's prophecy is referred to as Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman) and it is written that he will sit over the Vatican in a time of extreme persecution.

Now, I don't hold any stock in this prophecy, as it is written vaguely enough that you could apply it to several people. Still, it is kind of interesting given that it wasfirst published over 400 years ago.

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

The media will grab at anything it can find to make some noise.

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

God bless him for the time he was our leader of the Church. There aren't many 85+ yrs old people in this world that could lead a world Catholic population at that age. I hope the one elected soon will be younger and able to lead his people longer. I have confidence that the bishops will elect someone who will be just as honorable and lead his people according to the Bible, not according to the way people "feel" things should should be done. You don't change the words of the Bible to suit current times. Like it or leave it. We would rather have Catholics who are professing their faith openly than ones that profess to be Catholic but only on their terms. Those are not "Catholics," but hypocrites.

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 2 months ago

Kevin, just curious, and not trying to start a fight, but earnestly asking, where in the Bible does it authorize a Papal state and administration? I've studied the Bible for a while and I've not seen it. I'm actually curious where Catholics determine these things. I've been to Mass with a co-worker and much of what I saw didn't really seem to fit with what I've learned of the Bible. If you have time to respond, I would appreciate it. Thanks.

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

all you that do not have any faith, or trying to attack the Catholic faith, please read this before you open your mouths. Maybe you might learn something. I'm not going to get in a fight with anyone on a blog. http://www.vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

By the way, try reading about St. Peter and what God told him to do "upon this rock.".

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 2 months ago

I meant no offense. I'm honestly interested in the methodology of Catholicism. When I read about peter and Christ, I see it as Christ relating the rock as Peter's confession of faith, and not as Peter himself. Man is fallible, ergo it would not make sense to build the church upon a man. The statement Peter made, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," is a worthy foundation for a church.


When I went to Mass with my co-worker, I was amazed at some of the things I saw, because they did not fit with my study. The church offered communion, but no mention was made of paul's statement in Corinthians that a person should examine themselves before partaking in communion, to determine themselves worthy. Communion was to be a somber ceremony unto God, but the church I was in for Mass acted as though it was an everyday, ho-hum event.


There was also confessional booths, as I'm guessing is maybe normal within Catholicism. Again, I've tried to find that in the Bible, and the only thing I come across is James 5:16, where James writes "Confess your faults one to another, and pray ye one for another..."


Again, not trying to start a fight. Just genuinely interested in hearing a Catholic perspective.

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LilburnsFuture 1 year, 2 months ago

If you are interested in the methodology, study Paul as well - a roman citizen who first prosecuted christians and then converted. Read up on the Acts. Then read up on the First Council of Nicaea. The history of the church doesn't end on the last word of the bible. If you do not, then you were really not interested and were just trying to poke holes at what you saw at the Mass. Allow me to finish with a line from the movie, A Few Good Men. "How do you know where the mess hall is, if it isn't in the book?"

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm glad you are able to discern my intent. I was not trying to "poke holes" at what I witnessed, but rather trying to understand, from a Baptist perspective, what went on in a Catholic service. If someone were to ask me about the Baptist faith, I would try to share it with them. I wouldn't say "go read about John the Baptist, read the words of Christ and the prophets regards baptism, and then write a letter of inquiry to the Southern Baptist Coalition."


And don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things i see in Baptist churches that I don't agree with, because I've not yet found support form scripture. As with most churches, man's tradition often supplants God's commandment.

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LilburnsFuture 1 year, 2 months ago

How is your research going? Hopefully you did not stop. But something you brought up goes against your very own notion. The southern baptist coalition is based also on man (mankind). So if you cannot believe that Jesus asked a man to carry on his church, then there is not much weight in the coalition as well. No one path is the perfect path. It is what you believe and do that makes an impact on those here and your own soul for eternity.

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 2 months ago

Actually, I'm not a part of the Souther Baptists. I merely happen to be Southern and Baptist. The church I attend is not affiliated with the Southern Baptists.


I simply asked my questions, hoping to get a Catholic perspective. Instead I was called out for not having faith (at least that's how I read it), and told to go and study this and that. I understand the need, because I would eventually point someone to Scripture to read in their study. But I also believe that a person's relationship with God is intimate and should be readily and easily shared with others.


And you could also argue that there is a "perfect path." His name is Jesus (or Emmanuel, Yeshua, Messiah). He even said "I am THE way..."

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

"Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven." This is a Bible quote and translates into going to a priest to confess. You must believe in the miracle that takes place each time Mass is said in a Catholic Church. This is the transformation of the body & blood of Christ. I am always trying to learn the Bible and go to a Men's Spirituality once a week at 6:00am to learn among men of similar faith. Man is always having to learn about the Bible. That is why you should take the time to read it and pray each day. Like I told a friend one time, why spend so much time learning another religion? Spend that same amount of time learning your own religion instead of another one. God is after the "lost" sheep.

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 2 months ago

But was not also the veil of the temple torn from top to bottom, opening the Holy of Holies unto all men, and not just priests? Were we not all given an advocate with the Father? This is why I don't practice confession with a priest. I believe God has opened a path for me to approach Him and talk directly with Him, no intermediaries required.


And no, I don't believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation. I believe Communion is a sign between man and God showing man's acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ. Just as with Baptism, there is no saving grace in the act itself. The grace comes from the believer's faith. The acts of baptism and communion then become outward signs of your faith.


Again, I'm really not trying to anger or provoke. I know some people are incapable of discussing matters of faith without getting angry or mocking whoever they are talking to. I hope you're not reading that in my words. I love talking about religion with people of differing faiths. This discussion isn't about trying to sway someone else to your faith; just merely discussing the tenets of your faith.

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Why_not 1 year, 2 months ago

Funny you should mention the word "hippocrit." that's exactly what goes thru my mind every time I hear more and more about decades of sexual child abuse while the Catholic church did everything possible to cover it up. How many lives have been ruined because of these so called "holy men"? It's thoroughly disgusting.......

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

So according to your"bright" way of thinking, just because some gays misuse minors, then all gays are bad. How much more simple minded can you become.

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Why_not 1 year, 2 months ago

You are putting words in my mouth Kevin. I DID NOT say that. I have gay friends and you are way off base. My friends that are gay are not pedophiles. I do have issues with men of faith that use their religion and position of trust to prey on young boys, all the while the church is doing a massive cover-up while it is happening.....you can't deny it and the Catholic church can't deny it anymore. This is nothing like my religion trust me. The credibility of the Catholic faith has been forever tarnished.

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

You missed my comparison. You don't dislike a religion because of a few sinful humans, just like you shouldn't don't hate all gays because of a few sinful humans. Are all gays "tarnished for committing the same sin? Do you live with a double-standard? It is apparent you are crying out for help. I'll pray for you to follow the word of God, not of any man. "I'm a Catholic and proud of it."

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news2me 1 year, 2 months ago

One of a many gay & lesbian groups has bragged that even though homosexuals are less than 2 % of the population, 3/4 of the people who decide what is printed on the front page of the NY Times are gay. The progressive news mafia controls your mind.

Hypocrite? The recent child sex scandals taking place within the American Catholic church vs. news reports where rarely did the media describe clergy sexual abuse as homosexual or gay activity, even though the abuse involved male on male contact. Even the Vatican is concerned about the rise of gays in seminary schools. Do you throw gasoline on a fire?

The World is sinking further into extinction and the US is leading the way. This is progress?

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