Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said:
“The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00pm (7pm UK time) on February 28.”
Benedict told cardinals that his advanced age has made it unsuitable for him to continue in his papal duties, and in his official announcement he stated that his strength had “deteriorated” and he had begun to realize his “incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.” (Time)
“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.” (Time)
Though it seems quite sudden and was definitely unexpected, Lombardi says that this was not an impulsive decision.
“It’s not a decision he has just improvised,” Lombardi said. “It’s a decision he has pondered over.”
Lombardi later admitted at a press conference Monday morning:
“We were all taken a bit by surprise,” he said (Feb. 11). (Time)
At a press conference Monday morning, he said that the Church will quickly find a replacement for Benedict.
“Before Easter, we will have the new pope.”
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said that Benedict’s decision to resign “shocked and surprised everyone.”
“Yet, on reflection, I am sure that many will recognise it to be a decision of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action,” he said. (CNN)
The 85 year old pope – born Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 – was elected in April, 2005 and has only served in his post for eight years.
What does a retired pope do? Well… who can say? How did Pope Gregory fill his time back in the day? Lombardi says that Benedict, 85, will “probably retire to a monastery and devote himself to a life of reflection and prayer.” Lombardi stressed that Benedict will not be involved in the selection of his successor.
Benedict’s papacy was plagued with controversy and scandal, most notably the staggering number of sexual abuse controversies within the Catholic Church. In 2010, the New York Times reported that 200 boys at a Wisconsin school for deaf children were molested by Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy. The cover-up and failure to act included numerous high-ranking church officials, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger was aware of the scandal, as documented by The Times, and proceedings against Murphy were stopped after Murphy wrote a letter to Ratzinger. Though Ratzinger didn’t respond to the letter sent by Murphy, a lawyer who obtained internal church paperwork said the correspondence “shows a direct line from the victims through the bishops and directly to the man who is now pope.” (New York Times)
Edward Pentin, from the Catholic Herald, told Sky News:
“It really is too early to say what his greatest achievement has been.” (Source)
The resignation of a pope is very atypical.
“Most modern popes have felt that resignation is unacceptable except in cases of an incurable or debilitating disease — that paternity, in the words of Paul IV, cannot be resigned,” said Washington Post’s Debbi Wilgoren. (Washington Post)
Benedict’s resignation is timely: more letters exposing decades of child molestation cover-ups were recently exposed.
You can read the full text of his resignation at CNN.com. Or you can watch the video from ABC News’ special report here:
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff