Confirmed: Pope to resign on Feb. 28, 2013

In the consistory for canonizations today, Pope Benedict XVI announced he will resign on Feb. 28.

Text of the address:

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.

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19 comments on “Confirmed: Pope to resign on Feb. 28, 2013

  1. According to St. Malachy — 1 more Pope.

    Three expert Vatican watchers list some of their leading papabile — Italian for cardinals who might be elected as the next pope. In alphabetical order:

    Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, made headlines last year for a ripping attack on then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and other Italian leaders as unethical role models.

    He’s “fairly savvy about both secular politics and the media,” writes National Catholic Reporter Vatican specialist John Allen.

    Church historian Matthew Bunson, calls Bagnasco, 69, former professor of metaphysics and contemporary atheism “an intellectual heavyweight” who speaks multiple languages, and takes strong stands on doctrine.

    But the biggest boost may come from Bagnasco’s role as two-time president of the Italian bishops conference. Italians hold about a fourth of the seats in the College of Cardinals that will choose the next pope.

    Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian-born former Archbishop of Quebec, now heads the powerful Congregation of Bishops, a “great spot for great spot for making friends and influencing people,” by choosing the global leadership of the Church, says Allen. He describes Ouellet, 68, as a veteran in dealing with the secularized West, someone smart and intellectual with “a cosmopolitan resume,” says Allen.

    Ouellet is close to the late pope in theological thinking and someone who could bring a strong hand to the curia (the Vatican bureaucracy).

    “The electors could get a traditional pick still say, ‘Hey, we’re innovators. We went to North America!’ He’s the eye-popping choice.” says David Gibson, author of several books on the Catholic Church including a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.

    Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, elevated to cardinal in 2010 and head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is so smart, says Allen, “if you were picking a quiz bowl team in the College of Cardinals, most people would start with Ravasi.”

    Allen calls him “a master communicator who could take the world by storm. He can ignite rich, solid commitment to Catholic orthodoxy without ever coming off as a scold.”

    The Italian-born Biblical scholar has the advantage of being based in Rome. Cardinals in the curia, the church’s governing bureaucracy, get to meet many of the electors that cardinals in far-flung posts scarcely know.

    Still, Allen sees hurdles for Ravasi, who, at age 69 has never been a diocesan bishop. “Some would wonder if there were substance beneath the charm. He spends a lot more time talking to the outside world than within the church. Some see him as trying too hard. That’s off-putting.”

    Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 70, the head of the Vatican’s office for the Eastern Catholics and a longtime Vatican diplomat, would be the first pope from South America, the center of global Catholicism today, if he were chosen.

    “He’s prayerful, well-liked around the world and very much aware, because of his diplomatic experience, of the global dimensions of the Church,” says church historian Matthew Bunson.

    He may be best known in his role as No. 2 in the Vatican Secretary of State’s office. Sandri was the person who read the public announcement that Pope John Paul II had died in April 2005.

    However, Sandri’s age, his lifelong background in the church bureaucracy, and his reserved demeanor may work against him, says Bunson.

    Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, leads Bunson’s list as “an Italian with the intellectual chops for the job” who would bring Benedict’s enthusiasm for “recapturing Catholic excitement in Europe.”

    Benedict moved him from another high profile post, Venice, in July, 2011, thereby giving this Vatican insider a perch at Europe’s largest diocese. Milan and Venice together have produced five popes in the last 100 years.

    A top scholar on Islam and Christian-Muslim dialog, Scola, 70, is “well positioned for dealing with the challenges of secularism and materialism in the West,” says Bunson.

    Scola once said: “Our job now has to be to help people to remember God. People suffer from a kind of amnesia about God and we have to remind them to reawaken God in their hearts and in their minds.”

  3. A Papacy of half-measures and wasted opportunity. Looking at BXVI in the context of his unlamented predecessor, I suppose one ought to feel better about a disappointment than a disaster, but what comes next will probably be even worse.

  4. There have been disappointments, yet Pope Benedict XVl has given us back the True Eternal Mass. He also has tried to bring back some beauty and reverence.
    Let us exhibit some gratitute and some charity to his person and wish him God’s blessings for a life time of service in the Church.
    NOBODY is perfect and NOBODY is immaculate. Please let us remember that! Pax Christi.

  5. Cardinals Bagnasco and Ranjith are long shots but show the potential for some degree of traditional promise.

    Bagnasco was ordained in the Traditional Rite by Cardinal Siri so he may bring a few sedevacantists and conspiracy whackos over if he were selected.

  6. There’s no doubt. It will be Jenkins of Notre Dame.
    Peter the Roman.
    He will liberalize church teachings, lift the ban on birth control, and open the door for women priests.
    The Illuminati will take over the Holy See and Vatican City. Obama’s man in Rome will do what he’s told.

  7. Pope Bono the Great. An Irish Pope?

  8. In a Media Age, What does an Ex-Pope Do?

    By John Vennari

    I once asked my father if he would like to be Pope.

    He said no.

    I asked why not.

    Dad answered, “No chance for advancement.”

    Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world on February 11. In a surprise announcement at a Vatican Consistory of Cardinals, he declared he would resign the papacy as of February 28.

    “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, “ said the pope, “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… 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.”

    The 1917 Code of Canon Law, and the 1996 regulations of Pope John Paul II allow for the resignation of a Pope.

    An unprecedented modern announcement such as Pope Benedict’s immediately launches a tsunami of speculation. Was he forced to resign? Did he simply give up?

    Conjectures such as these are of little worth, especially when we look at what Benedict himself said on the subject in his 2010 book, Light of the World.

    When asked about the possibility of a Pope abdicating his office, Benedict said “Yes, if a Pope clearly realized that he is no longer physically, psychology and spiritually capable of handing the duties of his office, then he has a right and under some circumstance, also an obligation to resign.”

    Pope Benedict went on to say he believed it would be wrong to resign the papal office simply because of the crushing burden: “One must stand fast and endure the situation … one must not run away from danger and say someone else should do it.”

    There have been at least 10 popes who resigned their office, the last being Pope Gregory XII in 1415, who stepped down in order to help heal the great Western Schism.

    Other popes resigned under troubling circumstances, such as Pope Benedict IV (1032-45) who resigned after allegedly “selling” the papacy to his godfather Gregory VI. This was followed by Gregory VI (1045-46) who resigned when it appeared he may have received the papal office by means of simony.

    The most unusual case was Pope St. Celestine V, a holy hermit who reluctantly accepted the papacy after a conclave of cardinals unanimously elected him to the papal office in 1294. Celestine was a contemplative with no interest or knowledge of worldly affairs. Due to his own sense of inability, he resigned six months after his election.

    After Celestine resigned he requested that his successor, Pope Boniface XIII, allow him to return to his cell on Mt. Marrone. Boniface, however, noting the simplicity of his predecessor and the grave danger of schism, ordered Celestine confined to the castle of Monte Fumone where he died shortly after on May 19, 1296.

    This story leads us to the crucial question: what will Benedict XVI do after February 28? What does an ex-Pope do in a media age?

    Celestine V simply disappeared from view. The world no longer heard of him. It appears he did not exercise any influence whatsoever over his successor.

    But this is no longer 1296 but 2013. It is an age where popes court interviews with the press. Entire books, such as Pope Benedict’s Light of the World and God and the World are extended interviews with a secular journalist.

    We can expect journalists to hound Benedict after he steps down from office. What do you think of your successor’s policies? Is this how you would have arranged things if you were still Pope? What is your opinion on your successor’s Vatican appointments?

    It will be fascinating to see what sort of access a post-papal Benedict allows the press. And what will be the weight – or the perceived weight – of Ratzinger’s new writings after February 28?

    Granted, Benedict will probably not answer questions from journalists about the strengths and weaknesses of his successor, but this will not stop the media from asking them. It will not stop endless speculation. I believe this new situation will further add to the instability of today’s Vatican in its exercise of authority.

    The issue of Vatican appointments is an interesting one. Every Cardinal who holds a Vatican post, whether it be Cardinal Bertone, Cardinal Koch, Arcbishop Müller, derives his authority to hold the post from the Pope who appoints him, and immediately looses it when the Pope dies.

    A new pope is free to make a clean sweep of the Vatican Curia if he wishes. Though it appears unlikely, many of us would be glad to see Koch and Müller shipped back to Germany and replaced with more Catholic, less ecumenical prelates.

    With Benedict still living, however, a new Pope may be unwilling to make a clean sweep. Resigned or not, silent or not, a kind of rival papacy is established with Pope Benedict coexisting with his successor.

    We can only guess if and how Benedict would influence those who succeed him. I remember Archbishop Lefebvre noting that Cardinal Baggio of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops still exercised enormous power on that Discastery years after he resigned as its head.

    We still need to learn what we will call Pope Benedict after February 28. Do we still call him “Your Holiness” in the manner that we still refer to George Bush as “Mr. President”. Does he return to being addressed as Cardinal Ratzinger? And what is the ceremony in the Pontifical for a Funeral Mass of Cardinal who is no Longer Pope? When the time comes, the world will witness the unprecedented spectacle of a reigning pope burying his predecessor.

    Of course, with the new Pope comes a whole new chapter in the SSPX’s relations with Rome. After a stormy year, many of us hoped there would be a little more time to catch our breath. The next twelve months are guaranteed to be fraught with interest.

    Meanwhile, oremus!

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    Vatican Radio announcement about Pope Benedict’s resignation: full text

  9. Did the Wolves Win? Or Has the Holy Father Discovered a Way to Outsmart the Wolf Pack?

    The Vatican Press Office made an announcement this morning that has shocked the world: the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of February.

    Clearly, the Church is entering waters now that are as perilous as they are unknown. Let us presume the best of our Holy Father’s decision to resign, citing a lack of strength at 85 years old to carry out his papal duties.

    Before commenting further, we believe further prayer and reflection are in order. This much is obvious, however–the wolves inside the Vatican and out have been circling our ageing pontiff ever since he was elected to Peter’s chair. At the very beginning of his reign Benedict asked us to pray for him that he would not flee for fear of the wolves.

    And now the whole world is confronted with a question that may never be answered, even by history itself: Is Pope Benedict resigning because the wolves all around him have achieved their diabolical objective, or has he found a way of circumventing their evil designs by removing himself from their gullets? We believe it to be the latter. Pope Benedict XVI will not allow the wolves to act in his name to the detriment of the Church any longer. Vatileaks alone has shown this to be more than a mere wild conspiracy theory.

    What now? Pray incessantly for a younger but still tradition-minded successor who will attempt to carry on the reforms Pope Benedict was quite obviously prevented from continuing.

    May God help us all, and may He bless and protect his Church under siege from the world and in near total chaos internally. We pray for Pope Benedict, and ask our merciful God to watch over and protect him now and always…Michael J. Matt

  10. Our Lord is in charge and He will be with us to the end of time. Let us not be fearful. We hope and pray that traditionalists will unite under a new pope who will restore tradition in Holy Mother Church. That’s one of the things that has been missing IMO – unity of traditionalists under one leader and this would be an excellent time for that unity to show forth.

    As for Pope BenedictXVI, we wish him only the best in his remaining time on earth. I’m waiting to hear the reaction of Bishop Fellay to this news. As for papabile, as I said, it’s in the Lord’s hands. May He be merciful to us.

  11. I heard on the news that of the Cardinals that can vote John Paul II put 50% in and Pope Benedict put 50% in.(What’s the chance of getting a pope anywhere near Traditional). The Holy Ghost might give special graces to those voting for Pope but it doesn’t mean they have to accept them. God never takes away free will. Look at the last 3 Popes we’ve had!
    Also I’ve read that the added prophecy added to Malachi was the next to the last one not this one.
    If the last one is real it would match Fatima and not really have anything to do with Pope Benedict.
    I fear the church will get the Pope she deserves.

  12. On this one, LP, I agree.


  13. I believe this may the first Pope who resigned because he was either tired or didn’t feel well. I don’t buy it. There is certainly more that underlies this but I doubt that we will ever know until some close friend of the Pope’s writes the book. Benedict will never pen his motives on this. You can add my guess to the thousands of other prognosticators because that is all that it is worth.

    Benedict found that he could not, in general, say what he wanted to say, except in severely filtered and sterile terms, he could not go where he wanted to go and was forced to go where his handlers sent him, and when he felt an important change was needed, he was always subject to the pleasure of the Bishop’s councils. He was equally despised by the left and the right and he refused to be JPIII. He was convinced that V2 should have made everything better but he knew it made everything worse and he refused to believe it was the council’s fault. He did not want to officiate over the canonization of Paul VI or JPII.

    He was in a perpetual state of desolation and decided that the best way to prepare for his final judgement was as a contemplative.

  14. Thanks, Vinny.

    You captured many of the loose elements floating around in my pea-sized brain since yesterday and made sense of them.

    I simply like Josef Ratzinger. Period. He’s got his problems, from a Thomistic and real Traditional perspective – absolutely. But I have always sensed what he did he did out of obedience, including staying on at CDF and accepting the papacy. And I have already opined here and elsewhere on how he got into the whole Nouvelle Theologie hot mess decades ago through the discombobulating effects of WWII on European intellectuals in general. If you lived through it, you next had to live in a continental madhouse, surrounded by diaboical ruin, mass starvation, commies in every corner of every room in every public building, etc, etc, etc.

    I’m ever sadder today than yesterday seeing him on TV. I think he is in torment. And a great deal of it is simply due to old age – a great cross unto itself.

    Not an excuse, of course. I wish he had decided otherwise. But after decades of absurdist flapdoodles and massive incompetence in Rome, I think he’s simply had it.

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