The pope resigns

The pope has surprised the world by announcing his resignation.  From BBC:

Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.

The unexpected development – the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years – surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.

The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope in 2005 after John Paul II’s death.

The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says the move has come as a shock, but in theory, there has never been anything stopping Pope Benedict or any of his predecessors from stepping aside.

Under Canon Law, the only conditions for the validity of such a resignation are that it be made freely and be properly published.

A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said that even the Pope’s closest aides did not know what he was planning to do and were left “incredulous”. He added that the decision showed “great courage” and “determination”.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is quoted as saying he was “greatly shaken by this unexpected news”.

The brother of the German-born Pope said the pontiff had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and had been considering stepping down for months.

At 78, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected.

via BBC News – Pope Benedict XVI in shock resignation.

Here is his official statement:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, 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 steer the boat 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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil 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.

Should this matter to non-Catholics?

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  • CRB

    “And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ..”
    Hmm, has it not always been in His care?

  • “Should this matter to non-Catholics?”

    What an intriguing question. My dad alerted me to the recent news of the twelfth-century Irish saint Malachy, who allegedly predicted, in epigrammatic verse, the last ten popes, the last of which will be the next elected pope. If this next pope is dubbed or nicknamed Peter the Roman, my interest in this matter will be heightened significantly (I write with a tinge of nervous sarcasm).

  • Kirk

    ZOMG teh end timez!

  • It doesn’t matter to me, but I’m happy for the guy. Now maybe he can relax and enjoy his life a bit more.

    The bright side for the Roman Church is that because he is quitting they won’t have to pay him any unemployment money.

  • Kirk,

    Was that German, hahaha, oh, the irony!

  • Mary

    I have heard some people in the know thinking that the next Pope will definitely not be a European. Will the next Pope be an African? Or perhaps Latino or Asian. Interesting times we are living in.

  • No, as a non-Catholic, this doesn’t matter to me.
    …unless it’s part of an Illuminati conspiracy.

  • Kirk


    It’s relevant to you because you’re about to be subjected to another Dan Brown book.

  • SKPeterson

    Kirk @ 8 – The it truly is the end of the world.

  • SKPeterson

    Kirk @ 8 – The it truly is the end of the world.

    Unless we get this man to takeover his place: Pope Yankee Doodle Chemnitz the First.

  • As long as Joe Biden isn’t in the running I am not too concerned. This change may have an impact but what it would be I don’t know.

  • fws

    I have been told that Pope Benedict is far closer to Lutheranism theologically than was Pope John Paul. Those sources, who have worked at the vatican, have told me that John Paul was a mystic moralist with alot of universalism in his theology. Benedict was a huge help to the Roman Church in correcting lots of doctrinal and structural problems. He worked very quietly behind the scenes, and was very, very colaborative and respectful of bureaucratic rules , structure and authority in all the right ways.

    I hope that the new pope will be similarly gifted and oriented!

  • SAL

    I predicted this one. Maybe I’ll have a repeat on the Yearly Prediction Contest.

    As far as why this matters? The Pope is like it or not, the most visible and consequential clergyman in the world.

  • tODD

    Yowza, it’s embarrassing to see a typo like that in such an official statement!

    For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I denounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter…

    There, fixed it for him.

    Still, as someone who spent most of his life familiar with only one pope, this is all a bit too speedy for me. I grew up thinking Popes were semi-immortal (like the Queen of England), and not ephemeral office-holders (like Presidents).

    Anyhow, according to the official record, we’ve still got room for 38 more Popes.

    It does make you wonder, though: has the Pope finally found a nice lady and decided to settle down?

  • tODD

    Okay, more seriously, and with the obvious caveat that I’m not the biggest fan of the man’s theology (or taste in clothes) …

    I think it does speak well of his character that he’s voluntarily stepping down because he thinks someone else could do a better job. Rather than clinging desperately to power as age takes its toll on his efficacy, he’s thinking, well, vocationally, isn’t he?

    And, as SAL noted (@13), this kinda matters to Lutherans (et al.) because the Pope has the biggest ability to influence the media’s and public’s perception of Christianity. A good Pope (as it were) is of course hindered as to his ability to proclaim the Gospel, but he can at least not make things worse for the rest of us.

    Oh well, I always find the whole Pope-electing circus to be entertaining. As do a lot of non-Christians.

  • Gene Veith

    SAL, you are indeed a contender for the prediction prize!

  • Yes, anything that happens in, or to, the Roman Catholic Church should matter deeply to every Christian. First, they are our fellow Christians “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (remember?). Second, regardless of any theological/doctrinal differences we have with the RCC, they are the largest Christian “denomination” on the planet and the secular world, rightly or wrongly, regards them as representing Christianity.

    And, can I add one more Bible verse ?

    1 Cor. 12
    26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

  • Tom Hering

    First, they are our fellow Christians … (@ 17)

    Some are, some aren’t. Certainly not any of those who hold to a damning view of justification, which is not a secondary matter.

  • fws

    Double ditto for the ELCA.

  • fws

    Intended as a response to pastor Mc Cain.

    Apology VII & VIII

    Paraphrase: “The church is a threshing floor. It is slander to accuse us Lutherans of separating out the wicked from the visible church (which they identify by the label Holy Catholic Church in the Apostle´s creed).”

    Luther: “We are to to treat all the baptized as true believers. Not as article of Faith but rather as a command of the Law of Love.”

  • Tom Hering

    So was Luther treating the baptized pope as a true believer when he identified him as the Antichrist?

  • fws

    Tom @21

    Yes! The Antichrist sits WITHIN the Holy Catholic Church. Apology art VII and VIII.

  • fjsteve


    I have been told that Pope Benedict is far closer to Lutheranism theologically than was Pope John Paul.

    And Turin is geographically closer to Chicago than is Rome? 🙂

    Intended as a response to pastor Mc Cain.

    That’s ok. It also worked as a response to Tom @ 18.

  • fws

    fjsteve @ 23


  • Derek Kurth

    And just hours later, St. Peter’s Basilica was struck by lightning!