The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

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


Pope Benedict XVI announcing his resignation on Monday at the Vatican. At left is Msgr. Franco Camaldo, a papal aide. Source: L'Osservatore Romano, via Associated Press

Have you ever thought of resigning?

When the danger is great one must not run away. For that reason, now is certainly not the time to resign. One must stand fast and endure the difficult situation. That is my view. One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from danger and say that someone else should do it.

Is it possible then to imagine a situation in which you would consider a resignation by the Pope to be appropriate?

Yes, 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 the obligation to resign.

Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and the Signs Of The Times (2010)

Further News

  • 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

Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in Truth")

Caritas in Veritate online

Pope Benedict XVI signs his new Encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate

Helpful Summaries

Press Conference Accompanying Encyclical's Release

Guides for Study

  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offer free small group study guides - for stand-alone use or as a series, as well as an action guide on putting Caritas in Veritate into practice.

Additional Commentary

First Things Online Symposium - August 21, 2009

Press and Periodicals

Blog Discussions

The Weigel Controversy

On the question, "How 'authoritative' is a Catholic social encyclical?"

Spe Salvi ("Saved in Hope")

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The Year of Saint Paul -- Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis on St. Paul

General Audiences


The Regensburg Address: "Faith, Reason and the University"

Blog Coverage

Commentary on the Address

Islamic Responses

First Anniversary of Benedict XVI's Pontificate

Deus Caritas Est ("God is Love")

By Pope Benedict XVI

  • Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 25 December, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, in the year 2005, the first of Benedict XVI's Pontificate.
  • "I Wished to Show the Humanity of Faith" address Benedict XVI gave to participants in a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" on the theme "But the Greatest of These Is Love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). January 23, 2006.
  • Benedict XVI on His First Encyclical At the end of January 18th, 2006' general audience, Benedict XVI announced the publication of his first encyclical, which is entitled "Deus Caritas Est" (God Is Love).
Commentary and Reaction

Selected Addresses of Pope Benedict XVI

Interviews with Pope Benedict XVI

Special Compilations on Pope Benedict XVI

Since his election in 2005, The Benedict Blog features regular (usually monthly) "roundups" of news, articles, and commentary by bloggers and the MSM (mainstream media) on all things related to Pope Benedict XVI.

Selected Articles & Commentary on Pope Benedict XVI