The last time a Pope resigned was in 1415
Shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
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A Holy Father whose name we don’t know by this Easter?
A sudden change in the Church of St. Peter announced two days before Ash Wednesday?
BBC News Europe headlined this morning’s story: Pope Benedict XVI in shock resignation.
“Because the Pope has not died, there is no need for the traditional nine days of mourning, but there will be a Conclave (a meeting of Cardinals to select the new Pope),” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told the Daily Telegraph.
The last time a Pope resigned was in 1415. Pope Gregory XII chose resignation to end the Western Schism at a time when there were three claimants to the Papacy.
Speculation will run rife, conspiracy theories will abound at a time when Peter’s Rock has never been more needed.
“Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month in an unexpected development, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.” (BBC News, Feb. 11, 2013.)
The beloved late Pope John Paul II, who died at age 84 as the second longest serving Pope in the history of the Catholic Church in 2005, administered his papal duties for years in spite of the suffering and duress of chronic illness, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2001.
Questions about why the sudden shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI will plague Catholics worldwide .
Surely the most piercing one is: Why didn’t Pope Benedict XVI lead Catholics through Lent and Easter before announcing his resignation?
“We can expect a new Pope by Easter, which this year falls on March 31st,” says Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
Meanwhile, count on this being a story that will never end.
Pope Benedict’s Statement
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.