Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Announces He Will Resign At The End of February

Pope Benedict XVI stunned his closest aids when he announced that he will resign February 28th.  Ratzinger is the first pope to resign his position since Gregory XII in 1415 and the first to have done so voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.

Joseph Aloisus Ratzinger was ordained as a priest in 1951 and became Pope at the age of 78.  He was theologically conservative in his teaching and his prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values.

Prior to his election as Pope in 2005, Ratzinger had hoped to retire—on account of age-related health problems, a long-held desire to have free time to write, and the retirement age for bishops (75)—and submitted his resignation as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith three times, but continued at his post in obedience to the wishes of Pope John Paul II.

Early in his pontificate Benedict XVI predicted a short reign, which led to concerns about his health.  May 2005 the Vatican announced that he had suffered mild stroke. It is important to note that Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, insisted the pope had "no current illness that would influence his decision".

Today, February 11, 2013, the Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict would retire at the end of February. 

Pope Benedict XVI said in his resignation letter: 

“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.”

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