CFN – This morning, on the 21st World Day of the Sick, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will retire from his duties as Pope on February 28th at 8 p.m. Rome time. The pontiff cited failing strength and advanced age as rationale for the decision.
Alexandria-Cornwall diocese’s Bishop Marcel Damphousse told CFN: “As everyone else, I am surprised at today’s announcement from the Vatican. I will miss the Holy Father who appointed me as bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall. As a humble yet Christ-filled man, Pope Benedict has been a great witness of faith. I believe his love for God and the Church is what brought him to step down so that someone else could give the 100% attention to all the responsibilities entailed to the Petrine ministry that he could no longer assure.”
The Pope seems to have been hinting about the possibility of his retirement for some time. As far back as 2005 at the start of his ministry, he spoke of being “aware of my personal limitations and limited abilities”, a recurring theme which has surfaced at various points in his pontificate.
No doubt, the former Cardinal Ratzinger, would not have taken lightly the decision that would see him to be the first pope in almost 600 years to retire from his post. The move is not unprecedented, however; reportedly five of some 260 popes have, for a host of reasons, similarly resigned from active ministry.
Benedict will not participate in the potential 121 member conclave to elect his successor and will be moving to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo when his resignation becomes effective. He will later re-locate to a former monastery inside the Vatican upon completion of its renovations.
In his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict showed us all something of what the vocation of the See of Rome can mean in practice – a witness to the universal scope of the gospel and a messenger of hope at a time when Christian faith is being called into question. In his teaching and writing he has brought a remarkable and creative theological mind to bear on the issues of the day. We who belong to other Christian families gladly acknowledge the importance of this witness and join with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in thanking God for the inspiration and challenge of Pope Benedict’s ministry. + Justin Cantuar, Archbishop of Canterbury
Pope Benedict XVI has penned four Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations, and undertaken 30 apostolic journeys within Italy and 24 abroad, the first of which was to the 2005 World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne Germany. The 2013 World Youth Day will undoubtedly not be the same without him. It is, however, anticipated that Benedict’s successor will be in office by that time. According to a Vatican spokesman, we should have a new Pope by Easter. Among those highly speculated to replace him are Canada’s Cardinal Ouellet, Ghana’s Cardinal Turkson, and Nigeria’s Cardinal Arinze.
Here is the full text of the Pope’s announcement:
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 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.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
In the video clip below, speaking in Latin, Pope Benedict announces his upcoming retirement:
Fr. Robert Barron addressed the matter on MSBNC:
Fr. Joseph Fessio shares some thoughts: