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Scott P. Richert

BREAKING: Pope Benedict XVI to Resign on February 28, 2013

By February 11, 2013

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Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign the papacy at 8:00 P.M. (Rome time) on February 28, 2013. While not unprecedented, a papal resignation is very rare; Pope Benedict will be the first pope to resign in 600 years.Pope Benedict XVI in St. Mark's Square, May 8, 2011, Venice, Italy. (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

Rumors that the Holy Father would resign his office had been common in the early years of his pontificate; elected on April 19, 2005, after the death of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict was the oldest man named to the papacy in almost 300 years. But such rumors had abated in the last year, and today's announcement has shaken the Catholic world. Germany's Der Spiegel, however, is reporting that the Pope's brother, Fr. Georg Ratzinger, has known for months of Benedict's plans.

While the short period between the announcement and the date of the resignation is likely to prompt speculation regarding the reasons for the resignation, the BBC reports that "The Pope says his strength is no longer adequate to continue in office." Pope Benedict will turn 86 on April 16, 2013.

The Holy Father made his announcement in Latin; Vatican Radio has released an English translation of the entire text. Speaking to the College of Cardinals at a consistory in Vatican City today, the Holy Father declared:

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 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.

Vatican Radio has also provided an audio file of Pope Benedict's announcement in Latin.

While this may not have had any influence on his decision to resign, Pope Benedict XVI will now have almost unprecedented influence over the choice of his successor. While it is not yet known when the College of Cardinals will meet to elect a new pope, a Vatican spokesman has announced that Pope Benedict's successor should be chosen (and presumably installed) by the end of March. Easter falls on March 31, 2013, and there is obviously great pressure to have the Holy Father's successor in place by then.

Greg Burke, a former FOX News reporter hired as a media advisor by the Vatican, has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that "This means we'll have a new pope by Easter," because the College of Cardinals will be able to meet immediately following Pope Benedict's resignation, rather than observing the customary nine-day mourning period after a pontiff's death.

Elected as the successor of Pope John Paul II, the second-longest serving pope in history, Benedict XVI was from the beginning viewed as a "transitional" pope. At 78 years old, he was largely expected to mark time until his death, when a younger man would be elected.

Benedict's pontificate, however, has been remarkably active, especially on ecumenical questions. He has repeatedly reached out to the Eastern Orthodox; set up a structure for Anglicans to return to Rome; begun the process of reconciling the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X; extended the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, to (among other things) preclude further traditionalist schisms; and approved the issuing of a very important document that makes the Catholic Church's understanding of ecclesiology, which must be the basis for any ecumenical dialogue, crystal-clear.

Pope Benedict has also dealt with extensive media criticism over the clerical sexual-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had done more to end the scourge of clerical sexual abuse than any other high-ranking Catholic clergyman; but publications such as the New York Times, which disagreed with the Holy Father over his doctrinal and moral positions, continually tried to pin the failings of other Catholic bishops on Pope Benedict. The constant battle to improve the Church's handling of clerical sexual-abuse cases while being portrayed as doing the opposite clearly took its toll on Pope Benedict's health, hastening the day of his resignation.

(A gust of wind lifts Pope Benedict XVI's cape as he leaves St. Mark's Square on board an electric car on May 8, 2011, in Venice, Italy. Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

More on Pope Benedict's Resignation:

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February 11, 2013 at 7:02 am
(1) Kirt Higdon says:

God bless Pope Benedict and guide our Cardinals in the selection of his successor. This could not have been an easy decision.

February 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm
(2) Salvy says:

I can’t be the only one out there who’s not at all shocked and surprised
like they’ve been saying on Catholic broadcasting. Truthfully, I’ve been almost expecting this for about the past year I’ve noticed how weaker and feeble he got. And, I’ve also been wondering for a while who the next pope will be, and hoping to God they don’t choose Timothy Dolan. And I really mean that.
By the way, it’s no accident that Pope Benedict and the Vatican have not had much to do with Obama and his shady friends, they know who the fly guy is, believe me.

February 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm
(3) Fmarketman says:

Please God donít put Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the seat of Peteró

February 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm
(4) Brenda says:

Not to change the subject but did I miss something? What’s wrong with Archbishop Dolan?

February 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm
(5) Vitus says:

He is realy an honourable man. People should not be forced to resigned because of bad leadership. this should be a lesson to many leaders, especially those beleaguered.

February 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm
(6) Chuck says:

Maybe a new Pope will come from the African Continent. God bless you papa Benedict.

February 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm
(7) Cindy says:

Absolutely nothing is wrong with Cardinal Dolan. Don’t lte anyone tell you there is! I believe he is courageous and faithful to the Church. However, I doubt they will elect anyone from the United States.

February 12, 2013 at 2:20 am
(8) Marcelyn says:

Ya! This is an unexpected surprise. However I believe it is the will of God. May God continue to bless Pope Benedict XVI, and may He select for us a pope who has the will to shepherd His flock.

February 12, 2013 at 7:59 am
(9) Rev Fr Michael Omondi Olila says:

Congratulations on taking such a bold step, Holy Father!
You have been a great pope.

February 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm
(10) simon says:

May the Lord Jesus guide the church in electing a new pope

February 13, 2013 at 1:43 am
(11) Berna Babugura says:

Please God bless Pope Benedict, protect him Lord. thank you Pope Benedict for leading us and for protecting the Catholic Church …… I will miss you but will keep you in my prayers.

February 13, 2013 at 4:43 am
(12) Eliza Ndunge says:

Thank you Lord for that time you have given us Pope Benedict XVI. I pray that you keep him in Your Ribs so that even when he is out of pontiff office he can continue with Your work. kindly Lord give us another Pope of your choice for Your choice is always the best. Let Your full Will be done upon choosing and or elevating another pope to serve You and to reach the entire Catholic church in the whole word. Amen.

February 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm
(13) Tommy says:

Pope Benedict has obviously a great liturgical mind. And is someone that has represented the Church with distinction. I’ve recently read that the pope early in his pontificate had chosen to withdrawal from the majority of Vatican officials. The article suggested that the pope chose to surround himself with a handful of people that truly was unable to take the burden off of his shoulders. Suggesting that the pope has lead poorly in regards to the management of the Vatican. Nevertheless I will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals in the upcoming conclave.

February 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm
(14) Fmarketman says:

Dolan, as archbishop of Milwaukee, approved payments of $20,000 to get abusive priests to leave the church and to get lost. He moved $55 million into a fund for cemetery maintenance and as much as $74 million to a fund for individual parishes, to avoid having to pay the survivors of priest molestations. Now would you really want him to sit on the chair of St. Peter????? or for that matter to vote for the next pope. God help us.

February 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm
(15) mary johnson says:

God bless Pope Benedict! I attended his Mass in Yankee Stadium when he visited New York back in April of 2008. I know we will love the new Pope as much as we love Benedict and John Paul II. Thank you Mary Johnson

February 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm
(16) mary johnson says:

God bless Pope Benedict. Thank you for serving us so faithfully these years. I attended your Mass in Yankee Stadium in 2008. Thank you

February 23, 2013 at 8:10 am
(17) Tinn says:

Jesus, You gave to us a great Pope in Benedict XVI. You blessed him with wisdom, insight and intelligence to help guide Your Church on an intellectual level. We pray for his ministry as a teacher specifically through his writing. We pray that his writings about You will reach the whole world with Your saving message. We pray for a deeper understanding of our faith through the Pope’s writings.

February 23, 2013 at 8:48 am
(18) Emmanuel Ologu-Ogbangwo says:

The Pope is infallable so let us leave him to the judgement/decision of Our Lord Jesus Christ. More importantly, let us all pray hard for a Pope that will keep the Holy Roman Catholic Church ONE – just Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to His Father.

Blessed Our Lord Jesus Christ; Blessed His Most Holy Mother, Vigin Most Powerful and Mother of the Church; and Blessed Pope Benedict XVI.

Br. Emmanuel Mary Ogbangwo
All Saints Catholic Church,
Port Harcourt,

February 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm
(19) Gus says:

God Bless our Pope and the one to come! only God knows why we are gonna have a last Pope still w / us,…..and a maybe younger one approaching. Let us trust in the Lord and his ” one , holy, apostolic, Roman catholic church. 2000 years and still standing w Christ led by him.

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