Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world this morning by announcing his resignation. He is to step down by Feb. 28.
A summary of today's momentous event as they unfolded:
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed to a packed and sombre press conference this morning that Pope Benedict XVI would be stepping down at 8pm on feb. 28th.
He said even the Pope's closest aides did not know what he was planning to do and were left "incredulous." The Pope showed "great courage" and "determination," he said.
Reports say Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the Pope's brother, commented that the Holy Father had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and had been considering stepping down for months. He added that he had been having difficulty walking and that his resignation was part of a "natural process."
"His age is weighing on him. At this age, my brother wants more rest."
Father Lombardi said he was not aware of any particular medical reason but that he had noticed increased frailty in recent months. He added that he was also unaware that the Pope's announcement was timed to coincide with the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which falls today. He noted that the Pope didn't mention the feast in his statement released today.
Father Lombardi said the decision wasn't "completely astonishing," given the Pope values being in the best spiritual, mental and physical state to carry out such an important ministry. He added that the Pope also, as far as he was aware, did not consult anyone before making the announcement. The decision, he said, was "absolutely personal" and taken after "prayer and awareness of the great responsibility he has to God and to the Church, which he much respects and admires."
For more on the conference, please see VIS's account below.
THE POPE' STATEMENT
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
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
Fr. Lombardi added:
Pope Benedict XVI has given his resignation freely, in accordance with Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law.
Pope Benedict XVI will not take part in the Conclave for the election of his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI will move to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo when his resignation shall become effective.
When renovation work on the monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is complete, the Holy Father will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.
VIS has released the following:
* A Statement from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.
* Text of Fr. Lombardi's comments this afternoon.
CARDINAL SODANO EXPRESSES COLLEGE OF CARDINALS' NEARNESS TO POPE
Vatican City, 11 February 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, on hearing the news of the Pope's resignation from the Petrine ministry, expressed his nearness, and that of all the cardinals, to Benedict XVI.
"We have heard you," he said, "with a sense of loss and almost disbelief. In your words we see the great affection that you have always had for God's Holy Church, for this Church that you have loved so much. Now, let me say, on behalf of this apostolic cenacle the College of Cardinals on behalf of your beloved collaborators, allow me to say that we are closer than ever to you, as we have been during these almost eight luminous years of your pontificate. On 19 April 2005, if I remember correctly, at the end of the conclave I asked: 'Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?' And you did not hesitate, although moved with emotion, to answer that you accepted, trusting in the Lord's grace and the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Like Mary on that day she gave her 'yes', and your luminous pontificate began, following in the wake of continuity, in that continuity with your 265 predecessors in the Chair of Peter, over two thousand years of history from the Apostle Peter, the humble Galilean fisherman, to the great popes of the last century from St. Pius X to Blessed John Paul II."
"Holy Father, before 28 February, the day that, as you have said, you wish to place the word 'end' to your pontifical service, conducted with so much love and so humbly, before 28 February, we will be able to better express our feelings. So too will the many pastors and faithful throughout the world, so too all those of good will together with the authorities of many countries. Also, still this month, we will have the joy of listening to your voice as pastor: Ash Wednesday, Thursday with the clergy of Rome, in the Sunday Angelus, and the Wednesday general audiences, we will still have many occasions to hear your paternal voice. Your mission, however, will continue. You have said that you will always be near us with your witness and your prayer. Of course, the stars always continue to shine and so will the star of your pontificate always shine among us. We are near to you, Holy Father, and we ask you to bless us."
DIRECTOR OF HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON POPE'S RESIGNATION
Vatican City, 11 February 2013 (VIS) Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, commented there and on Vatican Radio on Benedict XVI's resignation of the papacy. "Among the reasons for the Pope's resignation, as he noted in his own words," he said, "are the circumstances of today's world that, in relation to the past, are particularly difficult, both because of the speed as well as the number of events and problems that arise that, therefore, need a vigour, perhaps stronger than in the past. It is a vigour that the Pope says he has felt diminish in him in recent months."
He continued, "The phrase: '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,' is very significant. This is the formal declaration, which is important from a juridical point of view. In paragrapgh 2 of canon 332 of the Code of Canon Law, we read: 'Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.' The two fundamental points are, therefore, freedom and due manifestation. Freedom and public manifestation, and the consistory in which the Pope manifested his will is public."
"Benedict XVI will continue to fully carry out his functions and his service until 28 February at 8:00pm. From that moment on the situation of Sede Vacante will begin, regulated, from a legal and canonical standpoint, by the texts referring to Sede Vacante in the Code of Canon Law and the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi dominici gregis' by John Paul II, regarding the Sede Vacante of the Apostolic See."
"The Pope's announcement is consistent with what he declared in the book 'Light of the World' by Peter Seewald, based on interviews with Benedict XVI. Seewald posed two precise questions on the hypothesis of resignation. In the first, he asked the Holy Father whether, in difficult situations that weigh on the pontificate in progress, the Pope would consider resigning. Benedict's response was: 'When the danger is great, one cannot escape. For this reason, surely, this would not be the time to resign' (he was referring to the question of sexual abuse, etc.). Moments like this are the times when one has to be strong and face the difficult situation. This is what I think. One can resign in a time of peace, or when one simply no longer has the strength, but one cannot escape in a moment of danger saying 'someone else take care of it'. In any case, the Pope said that the difficulties would not be, for him, a motive for resignation; rather, they would be a reason not to. Seewald's second question was: 'Well then, can you imagine a situation in which you would think that a Pope could resign?' The Holy Father responded: 'When a Pope realizes clearly that he is no longer physically, mentally, and spiritually capable of carrying out his role, then there is legally the possibility, and also the obligation, to resign.'"
The Director of the Holy See's Press Office explained that the Holy Father "will move to Castel Gandolfo on 28 February, and, once he has finished the tasks he has in progress, he will take up residence in the former cloistered monastery in the Vatican. The process for the election of a new Pope will begin on1 March. We do not yet know the exact date of the conclave, but obviously there will be no need to wait the normal eight days of mourning (novendali) after the death of the Pope. Thus, in two weeks, during the month of March, in time for Easter, we will have a new Pope ... Benedict XVI will have no role in next March's conclave, nor in the running of the Church during the time between popes, the time of Sede Vacante. The Apostolic Constitution gives no role in this transition to a pope who resigns."
"Personally," he concluded, "I received the announcement of the Pope's resignation with great admiration, for its great valour, for the Holy Father's freedom of spirit and great concern for the responsibility of his ministry. Benedict XVI has offered us a great witness of spiritual freedom, of great wisdom in regard to Church government in today's world."
VIS has also released the following, recalling the day of Pope Benedict XVI's election, and details on the forthcoming Conclave:
DAY BENEDICT XVI WAS ELECTED
VATICAN CITY, 11 February 2013 (VIS) ? It will soon be eight years since 19 April 2013, the day that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, was elected as Supreme Pontiff, the 264th successor of Peter, and chose the name Benedict XVI.
The cardinal proto-deacon, Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, made the solemn announcement to the people at 6:43pm from the external loggia of the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica following the white smoke which occurred at 5:50pm.
Following are the words of Cardinal Medina Estevez:
Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
Eminentissium ac Reverendissium Dominum,
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI
(I announce to you with great joy;
We have a Pope;
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Cardinal of Holy Roman Church Ratzinger
Who has taken the name Benedict XVI)
The conclave that led to the election of Benedict XVI began on Monday, 18 April 2005, in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, with the "extra omnes" pronounced at 5:25pm by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, following the taking of the oath by the 115 cardinal electors.
The first black smoke took place at 8:04pm the same day.
On Tuesday, April 19, there was black smoke at 11:52am.
On Tuesday, April 19, there was white smoke at 5:50pm.
At 6:48pm, the Holy Father Benedict XVI, preceded by the Cross, appeared on the external loggia to greet the people and to impart the Apostolic Blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world).
Prior to the blessing, the new Pontiff addressed the faithful with the following words:
"Dear Brothers and Sisters,"
"After the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to act, even with inadequate instruments and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, trusting in His permanent help, as we go forward the Lord will help us, and His Mother, Mary Most Holy, will be at our side. Thank you."
COMPOSITION OF THE CONCLAVE
Vatican City, 11 February 2013 (VIS) The conclave to elect the successor of Benedict XVI will be regulated by the "Ordo Rituum Conclavis" established by John Paul II's apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis", para. 27. The Cardinal Camerlengo, who has a fundamental role during the Sede Vacante period, is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, appointed by Benedict XVI on 4 April 2007.
The Cardinal electors, by their continents of provenance, will be 61 Europeans, 19 Latin Americans, 14 North Americans, 11 Africans, 11 Asians, and 1 from Oceania. These figures may vary depending on the date that the conclave opens: for example, Cardinal Walter Kasper will turn 80 on 5 March. The country with the greatest number of Cardinal electors is Italy, with 21. Sixty-seven of the electors were created by Benedict XVI and the remaining 50 by John Paul II.
One of John Paul II's innovations regarding the period of conclave is that the Cardinal electors?of whom there will be 117 on 28 February?will be housed in the Vatican residence Casa Santa Marta, which is independent from the place where they vote, the Sistine Chapel.
The Cardinal electors must remain in the Vatican during the entire period of conclave, and no one can approach them when they move from the Sistine Chapel to their place of residence or vice versa. All forms of communication with the outside world are prohibited. As in the past, the Sistine Chapel stove will be used to burn the ballots after each vote.
STATEMENT FROM CARDINALTIMOTHY DOLAN
PAPACY OF POPE BENEDICT XVI HIGHLIGHTED HIS PASTORAL, SCHOLARLY, HOLY LIFE, SAYS CARDINAL DOLAN
Sad he will resign but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership
Reached out to religiously threatened in Middle East, poor in Africa, world’s youth
Highlighted value of human life
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued this statement moments after learning of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013.
Statement of Cardinal Timothy Dolan
The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter.
Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, Spain and Brazil.
He delighted our beloved United States of America when he visited Washington and New York in 2008. As a favored statesman he greeted notables at the White House. As a spiritual leader he led the Catholic community in prayer at Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As a pastor feeling pain in a stirring, private meeting at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, he brought a listening heart to victims of sexual abuse by clerics.
Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.
He unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church. More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity.
He spoke for the world’s poor when he visited them and wrote of equality among nations in his peace messages and encyclicals. He pleaded for a more equitable share of world resources and for a respect for God’s creation in nature.
Those who met him, heard him speak and read his clear, profound writings found themselves moved and changed. In all he said and did he urged people everywhere to know and have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
The occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s world.