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
- Q&A on Benedict's bombshell John Allen, Jr. (National Catholic Reporter 2/12/13.
- Pope to live in Vatican monastery established by Blessed John Paul II, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Agency, 2/12/13.
- Benedict will be prayerful presence in next papacy, spokesman says, by Carol Glatz and Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Agency, 2/12/13:
In response to questions about how a conclave and a new papacy will be played out while a former pope is still alive and living in the vicinity, Father Lombardi said, "there will be absolutely no problem" because Pope Benedict is a discreet and "extremely scrupulous" person. No one would ever expect from him any "interference or comments that would cause even minimal awkwardness or problems for his successor," he said.
"Rather, his successor will feel supported by the prayers and intensely loving presence and interest from someone who, more than anyone in the world, can understand and be interested in the worries of his successor," the priest said.
"Pope Benedict will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of the election," the spokesman said, "and not intervene in any way in the process," he said.
- Pope will have security, immunity by remaining in the Vatican Reuters. 2/15/13.
- Pope Benedict will get a pension worth €2,500-a-month, by Michael Day. The Independent UK.:
When the Pope steps down on 28 February, he will take with him only personal effects and gifts, his piano, his cats and private letters. Everything else – including books, furniture, and documents – will remain in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
The Holy See spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said a “distinction will be made between official church documents and personal ones.”
- Special Report: The loneliness of the short distance pope, by Philip Puella. Reuters 2/22/13. An exploration of the various factors that might have contributed to the Pope's decision.
Reactions and Commentary
- Can the Pope Resign?, Fr. Thomas J. Reese, SJ. (Author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church):
Most modern popes have felt that resignation is unacceptable. As Paul VI said, paternity cannot be resigned. In addition, Paul feared setting a precedent that would encourage factions in the church to pressure future popes to resign for reasons other than health. Nevertheless, the code of canon law in 1917 provided for the resignation of a pope as do the regulations established by Paul VI in 1975 and John Paul II in 1996. However, a resignation induced through fear or fraud would be invalid. In addition, canonists argue that a person resigning from an office must be of sound mind (canon 187).
- B16 Resigns: The US Response Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia 2/11/12. Rocco also remarks.
- A Pope Resigns: What sort of man does the Church need now?, by Gerard V. Bradley, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame. National Review 2/11/13.
- Reason's Revolutionary, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. National Review 2/11/13.
- Benedict XVI’s Act of Humility by Kathryn Jean Lopez. National Review 2/11/13.
- Franciscan University of Steubenville Reacts to News of Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation Announcement, thoughts from Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville; Dr. Alan Schreck, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Dr. Regis Martin and Father Sean Sheridan.
- A Final Act of Papal Teaching, by Vincent Miller (America).
- Benedict: Far from the First Pope to Resign, by Dr. Jeff Mirus (Catholic Culture): "The resignation of a pope is a rare event but not an unprecedented one, as some early reports would have had us believe."
- The Reason Benedict Resigned, by William Fahey, Dr. William Edmund Fahey is President and Fellow of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire (Crisis).
- An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI, by Russell D. Moore, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
- A Turbulent Tenure for a Quiet Scholar, by Laurie Goodstein (New York Times 2/11/13).
- Reuters asks: Why Didn't Pope Benedict Tweet Resignation News? "It could have been the tweet of the century."
- Benedict: Last of the Heroic Generation, by R.R. Reno (First Things).
- Conclave and the Media: The Silly Season (Creative Minority Report):"Barely 48 hours after the announcement of Pope Benedict's retirement and the approach of a new conclave, the progressive kooks have come out of the woodwork."
- Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia) revisits Pope Benedict's November 2012 visit and greeting to the "Viva Gli Anziani" (Long Live the Elderly) Home, in which he came "as Bishop of Rome -- but also as an old man, visiting his peers." 2/11/13.
- A compilation of reactions to the Holy Father's announcement of his resignation (abdication?) from the See of Peter. (Aletia 2/12/13).
- The Papal Resignation: Background and Consequences - Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Fr. John Jay Hughes, a former student of Ratzinger, Church historian and priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. ("None of us now living will ever experience a Lent like this one.")
- Resigned to Confusion - Mollie Wilson O'Reilly on the confusion of how one should properly label the Pope's decision: resignation? renunciation? abdication?
- Benedict’s Decision in the Light of Eternity, by Rev. George W. Rutler. Crisis 2/13/13.
- Benedict Will Still Be There for Us, by Scott Hahn. (National Catholic Register 2/14/13.
- Carol Zaleski on "The Humble Pope" (New York Times 2/11/13)
- Benedict's resignation shifts focus from pope's personality to pope's office, by Joshua J. McElwee. National Catholic Reporter 2/13/13. "Don't call it Pope Benedict's resignation. Call it Joseph Ratzinger's exit from the papal office: The pope's surprise announcement Monday fundamentally alters Catholics' perceptions of popes to come."
- Pope Benedict resigned to avoid arrest, seizure of church wealth by Easter -- or so the The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State would have you believe. Peter Bradley (Lex Communis) dismantles the specious attacks and explains why "blaming Ratzinger in some fashion for covering-up or enabling sex abuse against minors because of Crimen Solicitationis is misguided. It is like blaming the Securities and Exchange Commission for not taking a firm enough stand against bank robbery."
- A Farewell to Pope Benedict from the General House of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter
- Sydney Morning Herald 2/12/13. An Italian journalist who beat the world's media on Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign got the scoop on the utterly unexpected news thanks to her knowledge of Latin.
- Benedict XVI’s resignation is a first for Canon Law by Luca Rolandi. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 2/11/13. Vatican Insider interviews Giovanni Battista Varnier, Professor of the History of Relations between State and Church at the University of Genoa on Benedict XVI’s shocking and historic decision.
- The challenge Pope Benedict has left for his successor—and for ordinary Catholics, by Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture):
- Cardinal Arinze praises Pope's courageous decision to resign, by Gerard O'Connell. [Interview]. "The Vatican Insider" La Stampa 2/23/13.