Pope Benedict’s Resignation: Statement and First Thoughts

by jimmyakin

in +Religion

Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation. Here is the full statement and first reaction.

Pope Benedict has announced his resignation and the election of a new pontiff.

This is not a joke.

This is the first time this has happened since 1415.

Here is Pope Benedict’s statement and some first thoughts on it.


The Statement

Here’s the full statement from Pope Benedict on his resignation:

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.

First thoughts . . .

1. I’m disappointed. I think Pope Benedict is an amazing teacher, and I have truly valued his time as pope.

2. I have to accept his judgment. He knows his personal situation and the demands of his office better than I do. If he thinks it’s time to go, I have to respect that.

3. It’s not entirely a surprise. He himself has said things before that indicated this could someday be a live possibility for him.

4. It’s not without precedent. A number of popes have resigned before, most recently in 1415, when Gregory XII resigned.

5. It’s good that this happened “out of the blue,” rather than when there were calls for a papal resignation. The latter could encourage divisiveness (that is, if dissidents got the idea that all they had to do to oust a pope they don’t like is make a big enough stink).

We know that John Paul II thought about resigning repeatedly but didn’t, likely in significant part because there were calls for his resignation and it would have set a terrible precedent.

6. While there were no resignations for almost 600 years, just as there were no non-Italian popes for 450 years, we’re probably going to see more of both in the future.

While the next pope might be an Italian, the diversification of the college of cardinals has already resulted in a trend toward non-Italian cardinals. That will continue.

More to the present subject, the on-the-job demands for a pope have gone up in recent years. Being the leader and public face of the billion-member Catholic Church in a time of rapid change and diminishing faith is not an easy task.

At the same time, advancing medical technology means increasingly long lifespans with a longer period of frail health.

It is not easy to be eighty five (Pope Benedict’s age) or ninety or ninety five and feel confident steering the ship of Peter in today’s world.

Unless we get really wizard regenerative medical technology really soon, we’re likely to have more popes in that kind of situation, and thus there are likely to be more resignations in the future.

7. Pope Benedict may follow the pattern of previously resigned popes and spend the rest of his days in a monastery. Alternately, he may live quietly with his brother. Either way, he will do his best to stay out of the public eye so as to give his successor the freest hand possible. (This is the same thing that usually happens when a U.S. president leaves office; it’s traditional for him to more-or-less vanish, at least for a time.)

8. The fact that Pope Benedict chose to do this now, just before Lent begins, so that his resignation takes place in two weeks and we should have a new pope before Easter, means that his deterioration of health is serious. This is also the case in view of the big agenda he set for this year (the Year of Faith) and that he will now not complete.

9. I hope he does release his new encyclical–on faith–before his resignation is effective. His successor could release it anyway, with any suitable modifications he deemed appropriate. Or it could not come out at all. But I hope it will, and under Pope Benedict’s name, while he’s still pope.

10. Let us all fervently pray for both Pope Benedict, for his successor, and for the Church.

More later.

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Elinor6mn60o February 11, 2013 at 5:18 am

@JimmyAkin3000 http://t.co/KWmVi3j1

Dave February 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

Thanks for your commentary!  One peccadillo: I don’t think this “resignation” is comparable to Gregory XII, since Gregory XII had to resign in order that Martin V could be elected to resolve the Western Schism.  He was “voluntold”.  Celestine is probably the closest parallel.

patholscher February 11, 2013 at 5:31 am

Celestine, if I recall correctly, came from a monastic tradition and was reluctant to become Pope.  In that reluctance, Pope Benedict’s story is somewhat similar, in that he had concerns about his advanced age.
Celestine desired to return to the monastary, but never made it, as his successor kept him in Rome for his intellect.  I suspect we may see that repeat it self here too.
It is an important point, however, that there have been prior resignations.  Our modern way of looking things tend to result in shock if something hasn’t happened within our lifetimes.  But, in the life of the Church, Papal resignations basically  happened as recently as yesterday, in real terms.

Jimmy Akin February 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

@patholscher Well, yesterday if the Church is three and a half days old. :-)

FriarBenjaminKwaghgba February 11, 2013 at 6:31 am

@patholscher Yes, he is going to stay in Rome, but in a monastery that is presently under renovation.

Jimmy Akin February 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

Yes. I was just commenting on how recently there has been a resignation, not who was the closest parallel. Celestine V is definitely closer.

patholscher February 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

You raise a very interesting point about increasing ages in general.
While I will very greatly miss this Pope, who has probably been the one who has personally impacted me the most in my 49 years, I have to respect the decision to resign due to advanced age. Advanced age is something that’s increasingly common in the Western world and it’s hard in ways that are difficult for younger people to imagine, or even accept that they will have to endure themselves.  So, here too, I wonder if the Pope is being a leader and this example will increasingly be followed in the  future.
To add to this line of thought (age) I wonder what the average age of the Popes is at the time of their deaths?  I’d guess, given the 2000 year history of the office, it’s in the 40s.

Gail Finke February 11, 2013 at 8:45 am

@patholscher I’m pretty sure it’s much older. There have been several popes with extremely long pontificates. Most people misunderstand the “avereage age” calculations of past centuries, imagingin that most peopel dropped dead at 30 or 40. A high infant mortality rate and death rate from childbirth, infections, etc. meant that a lot of people did die young, driving the average age down. But a lot of people also survived to be elderly.

Pat Holscher February 11, 2013 at 10:55 am

@patholscher That is quite true.  Really, people do not live longer lives so much as fewer people die of disease and illness (particularly in infancy) than they once did.

LizEst February 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

@patholscher  Go here to see all the different facts on Popes and the Papacy (just take the author’s sometimes rants with a grain of salt):  http://popes-and-papacy.com/

Greatgram25 February 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

He will be called Cardinal Ratzinger after he resigns!

herewegokids February 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

This is not what I wanted to see with my morning coffee…I’m tearing up.  Pope Benedict will always be ‘my’ Pope…45 year old convert, came in last Easter.  Such a a gentle, brilliant man.  May God bless and keep him.

xavierabraham February 11, 2013 at 5:30 am

How will one address Pope Benedict after he resigns ? Also, can he take part in the election to the next Pope ?

NikkiH February 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

@xavierabraham He’s too old to go into the conclave, so he won’t likely be part of electing the next pope

NikkiH February 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

@xavierabraham He’s too old to go into the conclave, so he won’t likely be part of electing the next pope

Jimmy Akin February 11, 2013 at 5:38 am

@xavierabraham I don’t know if there is a proper term of address for a former pope. We’ll have to see what they uncover from the history books (if anything) and what practice now develops.

Jimmy Akin February 11, 2013 at 5:39 am

@xavierabraham By law he would not be able to vote for his successor due to age.  As pope, he could change the law to give himself whatever role he would choose, but I strongly suspect he will not do so.

Howard Romanus February 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm

@Jimmy Akin  @xavierabraham I wonder about that.  There were certainly Medieval Popes who would surely have changed canon law to allow themselves to appoint their own successors if they thought they *could*.  I suspect that some things — such as the inability of a Pope to simply appoint his successor, and the impossibility of having two Popes validly reign at the same time — belong to the Deposit of Faith and cannot be changed even by a Pope.

FriarBenjaminKwaghgba February 11, 2013 at 6:29 am

@xavierabraham He’s not taking part in the conclave … he’s above the age.
He’ll be addressed as Bishop emeritus of Rome, but not Pope.

jjrod1959 February 11, 2013 at 7:30 am

@FriarBenjaminKwaghgba  @xavierabraham Thank you!  I was asking myself that very question.

James1978 February 11, 2013 at 6:37 am

I was really looking forward to the post synodal document. I know with catechesi tradendae JPII inherited that from Paul VI and JP I. So maybe the new pope will promulgate it.

stevenrf February 11, 2013 at 6:38 am

Our Holy Father is wise, brilliant, and prudent. I think he would have made a great tactician. I trust his calculation as well as his love for the Church and for us.

DougPearson February 11, 2013 at 6:52 am

The Holy Father has given his two weeks notice.

Sentient February 11, 2013 at 7:06 am

Might as well start off the speculation about “Petrus Romanus” in the “St Malachy” prophesy. I hope we get a black pope, but it would suck if he were also the Antichrist. Thankfully Obama already has a job.

RickConners February 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

Peter Torkson? @Sentient

RickConners February 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

Peter Turkson? @Sentient

Howard Romanus February 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

By the way, what does “thankfully” mean in that last sentence?  It does not appear to be an adverb modifying “has” — Obama does not appear overtly thankful in possession of his job.  Do you really mean “Thanks be to God, …”?  Do you *really* mean that?

JerusalemJones February 11, 2013 at 7:06 am

Nicely said Jimmy.

Teresa February 11, 2013 at 7:10 am

Thank you for your calm and reasoned comments, Jimmy.
It does help at this time. I especially thank you for your reminder to pray for His Holiness.

SanGiuseppe February 11, 2013 at 7:10 am

I was scared at first of Benedict. They had called him the Pope’s rottweiler. He did not turn out like that. He revealed himself to be a warm and compassionate man who additionally was a theological genius and gifted orator and writer who will be read and admired for centuries to come. I wish him a peaceful retirement far from the chaos of modern life.

Matthew S February 11, 2013 at 7:11 am

I said this on my facebook, but will say it again.  Emotionally, this is similar, in a small degree, to what many people will feel when Obama leaves office:  some shouting joyful  elation and some crying tear-shedding sadness (I said to a small degree).  God bless you Pope Benedict XVI and may you have a long(er) and more fruitful life.  My prayers are with you.  fwiw, I wonder who the next pope might be.  Personally, I think an Oriental pope  would be something to see.  IMHO.

Subvet February 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

MHO but if these were tranquil times there’d be no problem with an 85 yr. old man heading the Church. Things being the way they are, I believe the Pope is under the strong influence of the Holy Spirit. God’s will be done, may He have mercy upon us all.

GabrielaPedroza February 11, 2013 at 7:20 am

This is a holy man. Thank you Benedict XVI for your great love, your work and wisdom. I am sad to see him go and, upon first hearing the news, I actually felt frightened, but our Pope keeps the Holy Spirit as his constant companion and this all should be just fine. May God bless him!

Alanasi1cnbhzy February 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

@HolyRoadies http://t.co/Z6AyODHX

jjrod1959 February 11, 2013 at 7:27 am

I agree with George Weigel: “A resignation is something that someone hands to someone else. Popes have no one to resign to, so this is an abdication.”  I am also disappointed.  Pope Benedict’s intelligence and holiness are inspirational!  I pray for him and the well-being of our Church.

lizphelan February 11, 2013 at 10:22 am

@jjrod1959 The monarch abdicates.  The prime minister resigns.  The word “resignation” seems appropriate.

BillyHW February 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@jjrod1959 Indeed.  This is the proper analogy.  Christ is the King.  Pope Benedict the Steward and Prime Minister has resigned to Him.

BillyHW February 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

@jjrod1959 But the throne is not his, it belongs to Christ.

Tricia February 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

I love Pope Benedict and I will miss him as Pope. I will pray for him. He is a holy, scholarly and quiet unassuming man. I pray that he will be able to return to his beloved Bavaria at least for a visit. But I know we will get another great and holy man to serve as Pope.

MichaelJaffrayKing February 11, 2013 at 7:38 am

I think this stinks!!!!!
There is something in my opinion very sinister about this. Jesus! Mary HELP!!! us alllllll

Matthew S February 11, 2013 at 7:41 am

And humble too.  Look at his own words:  ” and I ask pardon for all my defects.”  The most powerful Catholic in the world asks us to pardon his defects!  Tears come to my eyes as I write this.  Now where did I leave that Rosary …

Greg60 February 11, 2013 at 7:48 am

I am sure that Pope Benedict did not want to put the Church through what it had previously experienced with the debilitation of Blessed Pope John Paul II. It is known that John Paul had become feeble, was not communicative, and was basically not “in charge” for at least the last three years of his life. Alot of things were not attended to during that time and one might as well say that Cardinal Ratzinger did his best to steer the “bark of Peter” behind John Paul. I wish him well. I will pray for him. He will be missed.

That Hat Lady February 11, 2013 at 7:50 am

JP II was right in not resigning because it would send the message that given enough pressure, the progressives could drum traditionalists out of the papal office like a bad politician. The late Malachi Martin, writer and Vatican insider, used to say this in interviews. The papal office is a holy calling in which he stays until death; all the way to the gallows if necessary. He can’t just retire like a CEO to go fishing and write books. If he does, I think God will call him home very soon. I don’t feel good about this. I wonder if the Malachy prophecy is about to be fulfilled–the chair will be empty for awhile, and we will be guided by the spirit of St. Peter himself.

That Hat Lady February 11, 2013 at 8:01 am

I forgot to add, if papal resignations become the new normal, the public view of the papacy will again seem like the religious equivalent of a political office and not a holy calling. Like being President of the USA.

That Hat Lady February 11, 2013 at 7:59 am

I forgot to add, if more papal resignations are going to become normal, the papal office will again be viewed by the public as the religious equivalent to a political office, like President of the USA. Not a holy calling.

Tim Jones February 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

Seems like just last week he was installed! Yes, I will miss him. I should take more time to read his encyclicals.

Greg60 February 11, 2013 at 8:16 am

The Church will always have the guidance of a pope. As long as there is Christ’s Church, there will be a pope. Malachy’s prophecies have already been discredited as forgeries, so I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on that.

choong94 February 11, 2013 at 8:35 am

@allencch ya wo, can meh?

MichaelJaffrayKing February 11, 2013 at 8:44 am

I have been crying too. However we live in extremely significant times and it seems that the Lords is allowing great injustices to sweep our world. This is part of the last days scenario. It does not take rocket science to realize that matters are coming to a head. Lord Jesus and Our Blessed Mother please give us all the strength to stand firm and strong in the extremely trying days that are upon us. No longer just around the corner but are upon us! @Jimmy Akin

The Masked Chicken February 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

One reason that Pope John Paul II remained as a reigning pope until his natural death was as witness against those modern forces that consider life only valuable when it is not too burdensome. His was a profound witness for life.
Pope Benedict is making a different witness during a time when the whole world is convulsing from moral and practical difficulties. He believes, I suspect, that we’ve got a tiger by the tail (or a roaring lion?) and that it will take a younger man to ride the beast down.
I only hope that the Culture of Death does not view this resignation as an agreement with their views about aging.
Besides, until his death, Pope Benedict will be available for consultations, if necessary. That is a situation fairly unique in Church history.
The Chicken

Mark30339 February 11, 2013 at 8:56 am

Bishop Emeritus of Rome.  This is a good precedent to set.  Perhaps it’s time to have an auxiliary Bishop of Rome also — they need someone who can command and co-ordinate the vatican administration.

pazzogrande February 11, 2013 at 9:57 am

@Mark30339 There actually are Auxiliary Bishops of Rome, seven of them.

Howard Romanus February 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm

@Mark30339 Or at least have tea with the Archbishop of Canterbury to make him feel important.

TobinPilotte February 11, 2013 at 8:58 am

Great post, thanks for the balanced and informative information. I have to admit, I am usually a day late and a dollar short so I am just now getting around to reading his books on Jesus. He truly is an amazing gift to the Church and will be, like his predicessor JPII, sorely missed. However God is a loving Father who gives the good gifts to His children so I have to admit, while I am saddened by this news I am also somewhat excited. God forgive me if that is a bad thing…

Bethanie Ryan February 11, 2013 at 9:51 am

Great analysis! I hadn’t thought of your 5th point there, but you’re right! The crazies have been quieter than usual lately.

Bethanie Ryan February 11, 2013 at 9:56 am

@Bethanie Ryan Just read your rules. I hope my comment didn’t break them. If they did, I’m sorry.

PeterTurner1 February 11, 2013 at 10:22 am

Will he still be able to write books after resignation? I asked here: http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14101/is-the-pope-allowed-to-publish-books-after-resignation but no one knows so far.  I too was wondering about the encyclical on faith. 
Seems pretty sad if he leaves off the theological virtue hat trick / triple crown / tripartite bond / whatever….

Howard Romanus February 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm

@PeterTurner1 He wrote books before becoming Pope — why not afterwards?  Only no more encyclicals.

Michael Augustine February 11, 2013 at 10:28 am

Thank you, Jimmy. Your opinion on the news of our Holy Father is well considered. I was in stunned disbelief when I first heard the news from my wife about the resignation.
Once I heard the video, I knew it was real. I am still stunned and sad. I feel regret that I have not prayed enough for our Pope and our Bishops.
During this Lent, I intend to pray daily for our Bishops, and Priests, and Deacons, and especially for the Cardinals that will soon be in Rome to be vessels for God’s will in our Church as they vote for a new Pope to replace Pope Benedict XVI.
Michael Augustine, in full communion with the Church since Easter Vigil, 2009. Thanks be to God!

Eirenikos February 11, 2013 at 10:35 am

Point 7. Pray that PBXVI continues to guide the Church towards full unity with the Orthodox. The Ungreat Schism, Satan’s swansong, is the festering wound in the Church militant, the source of much trial and tribulation and the sword that pierces the heart of the Mother of our God. Pray, just pray. And keep thy mind in hell so that you may not despair (St. Silouan).

Brother Rolf February 11, 2013 at 10:40 am

His successor will take the name Petrus II.

MichaelHollinger February 11, 2013 at 11:34 am

@Brother Rolf Sounds like someone has been reading Saint Malachy…

Linda Bo February 11, 2013 at 10:51 am

Jimmy – we all have a lot of prayers lifting for our dear Pope. I too am heartbroken, but I know and trust he is doing what God has led him to as best for his sheep. To me it seems likely that he either is suffering some type of dementia (or perhaps fears/anticipates the onset). For a man that brilliant, that must be the worst kind of suffering… 
I hope his successor can be as prolific a writer and a leader as our dear Papa and that we are eager to accept and embrace the change. 
Do you think I am crazy to wish someone like Timothy Dolan steps in (?)  It will be almost impossible to find someone as well written and brilliant as PBXVI but perhaps he can make up for it with other qualities…
(?) need to refresh myself on the facts here ~ Just sharing my initial feelings….  He is, I believe too young if otherwise qualified)

BillyHW February 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

@Linda Bo You are crazy.  Or did you miss that love-in with Obama?

Greg60 February 11, 2013 at 10:55 am

Brother Rolf said “His successor will take the name of Petrus II.” This is quite doubtful. In fact, I would dismiss it outright. No pope has ever taken the namesake of Peter out of respect and dignity of the office of Saint Peter. It would be a bold and unwarranted move on the part of any future pope to name himself after Peter.

rsmyth7 February 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

@Greg60 I think he is referring to st maliki’s profacy. he never names the popes but gives a brief discription! Benedict was called the “glory of the olive”!!! It just so happens that the Benedictine order’s offical name has the Olive in it! maybe someone knows their name? well he list the next pope as peter of rome, and there the list ends! it suggest the next pope will be italian or actually from rome. not that he will call himself peter!

Howard Romanus February 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm

@rsmyth7  @Greg60 So, in the spirit of how the “prophecy” has been interpreted so far, I will speculate that the next Pope will be a fan of the “Rocky” movies (“Peter” means “Rock”!), or will perhaps enjoy rock climbing or own a pet rock.  He will at some point have been present in the Archdiocese of Atlanta (perhaps to catch a connecting flight) — Rome, GA is in that archdiocese!!!

JoeDeCarlo February 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

Western Europe is no longer the center of Catholicism.  I believe that someone from Africa or Central or South America will be elected pope.

PatScott February 11, 2013 at 11:50 am

I was sad to hear this news today. He has been an exceptional Pope, and I shall miss him. I am however glad that he is not waiting until he is so feeble he cannot carry out his duties–as poor JP II was. Yes we must pray to the Holy Spirit for the next Pope selection.

TeaPot562 February 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

We must pray that his successor will continue the efforts toward reunion with the Orthodox churches.  The scandal of a seriously divided Christianity is a great hindrance to nonbelievers accepting the reality of Jesus Christ and His teaching.

Eirenikos February 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Well put.

rdowney14 February 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Holiness and leadership should be the two keys to selecting a new pope.  Race or nationality should be inconsequential.

Lonnie Hortick February 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I was surprised when I heard the news this morning. However Pope Celestine V made it possible for the pope to resign. He didn’t want the papacy and wrote a decree that allowed any pope to abdicate the Chair of Peter. He only led the Church for five months and eight days.

chipsahoy34 February 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Yes i agree Jimmy, Pope Benedict will be missed as a great teacher.
God bless our Holy Father, and may our Lord guide his Holy Church into the future of renewed faith

rsmyth7 February 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

everyone is saying”resignation” the proper term is abdicate! who is he resigning to? He is abdicating the throne of Peter!

Nick D February 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

@rsmyth7 Canon Law uses resignation. The Holy Father himself used the Latin verb for “renounce.” No where have I seen an official source use “abdicate”

Brother Rolf February 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Benedict’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, also a priest, suggested last year that the pontiff might retire at age 85, arguing Catholic law would allow for him to step down if his health wouldn’t allow him to continue@Nick D  @rsmyth7

FMaddalena February 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm

@Nick D Because the English translation is a bad translation on that line. The original latin word (in which the Canon Law text is written) uses ‘renounce’ as a term, not resign.

Jeff February 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm

What I can’t stand are the media darlings among the heterodox Catholics coming out of the woodwork. I already heard one, on a Christian (Evangelical) radio station in Melbourne, professing to be one of the majority: a cafeteria Catholic and how they offer “choice” in contrast to discipline. Later one DJ joked that this priest should be the next pope, and that they love him and he’s so unorthodox. Truer words were never said, and it seems such an injustice that such people will seize their media moments to cause scandal.

yan February 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I think I will be the first to say this.  Apparently the only one to say this: this is a mistake.  We need this man.  We need him to be Pope.  There are none others like this man in the world.  He needs to get back in there.  He can change his schedule.  He doesn’t have to be JPII pope.  He can delegate authority.  This is wrong!  He is taking himself from us!

Jeff Tan February 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I had similar misgivings when I heard — on a Christian (Evangelical) radio station — and the lighthearted treatment by the DJs, plus that heterodox priest on a quick phone interview just made me feel worse. But it later occurred to me (after I calmed down) that this is an occasion to walk the walk — of faith. Jesus Christ is still the head of the Church, and he can raise up good shepherds for us, as he did with Pope Benedict. However this unfolds, we have to trust that the Lord can work everything towards the good of his flock (even if it feels so horrible as we see jackals go into attack mode with pens, cameras and microphones).

BillyHW February 11, 2013 at 6:46 pm

<b>This is the same thing that usually happens when a U.S. president leaves office; it’s traditional for him to more-or-less vanish</b>
Cough cough *Jimmy Carter* cough hack wheeze…

BillyHW February 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

You need to get Disqus, Jimmy.

rsmyth7 February 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

History is full of many Saints who either reluctantly accepted positions of honor in the Church or resigned once in office to follow a more ascetic and spiritual life. I for one agree that we need this Pope and should mount a letter campangne to express our love, appreciation and desire for this great man who probably feels alone and overwhelmed, to remain!!! the MSM is very hard on him and he may not realize the love and affection we have for him. If nothing else, he will leave knowing how much we love him!!!

yan February 11, 2013 at 6:58 pm

@rsmyth7 YES!  Someone with internet-petition experience needs to lead the way here.  What is really going on here, I think perhaps, is ‘The Year Without a Santa Claus.’  The Pope needs our love.  There must be some way to express it quickly, before it is too late.  Can’t our bishops do something??

PhilTri February 12, 2013 at 8:09 am

 It would be selfish of us to pressure such a man to remain; he has allready suffered in his discernment process. Rather we ought to express our gratitude and love for how he has moved us toward greater holiness by our expression and prayers for his fruitful retirement, also for the sucessor to the Chair of Peter. Holy Spirit continue the Spirit filled works of Papa in retirement and guide the Conclave to elect the best to lead us to perfection in Christ. Amen.

fratersolanus February 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Given the historic nature of this decision, there is a temptation to read too much into it.  May I suggest a practical consideration?
Blessed John Paul II’s funeral was the biggest event (in terms of crowds) in human history.  Logistically, it was a nightmare and it crippled Italy and much of Europe.  By resigning, the humble Benedict has spared the cash strapped and much (unfairly) criticized Church the expense of a big fancy funeral.  When he goes to his reward as bishop emeritus of Rome, we can expect something more traditional and subdued.

PhilTri February 12, 2013 at 8:03 am

 When Benedict passes into eternity, there will still be a super major time of morning that is likely to be an occassion of major cellebration. Though it may not be as well attended as John Paul II’s, It will still be a logistics tribulation. He has been a far greater pope, than I ever expected him to be. If Catholics lived the Good News even to the OT standard of tithing rather than Christ’s admonition of giving even to the point of sacraficing need, the Church would be able to care for the needs of the Church and even more of the world’s needy, than She allready so generously does. When a major figure finally sheds the temple of the flesh, we out to mourn our loss with great respect in the joyous hope that they have won the race to bask in the inheritance of Christ’s glory. Thank you “fratersolanus” for your support of Church on the whole.

afieds February 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I would like to congratulate Jimmy on this post and all the respones as they are all unusually profound. I also felt frightened when I got the news and also realised that I hadn’t prayed enough for the priests and the pope. All our prayers and efforts seem so futile sometimes, like a drop of water on a hot plate. Kyrie eleison

PhilTri February 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

 Unfortunately, not many have actively prayed for all the ordained (deacon and priest), except through the general prayers of the faithfull at mass. Given that there are about 1.2 billion professed Catholics world wide, this ought to work well. However, only about 28% attend mass and not with great regularity. Progressive thinking, such as expressed by Bill Stuart, usually hold that Sacramental Confession isn’t needed. This means that many who receive the Eucharist bring condemnation upon themselves (1 Cor 11). As Catholics, we have the unique opportunity to gather for the Thanksgiving Banquet that is spoken of in Acts, Paul’s letters, and elsewhere, daily. What a marvelous Church Jesus established for us. As members of this Church we can choose to pray daily with this Body of Christ at the Holy Sacrafice of thanksgiving. God bless you for accepting the knowledge to pray diligently for the priests and deacons who serve God in serving us, afieds. Spread a devotion for the ordained as called for in the Year for Priests.

Stuart OBrien February 12, 2013 at 12:51 am

I’m sorry but are you serious? This is a man whom just a few short years ago was facing a lawsuit for protecting pedophile priests. This is the man who basically pulled strings with George W. Bush to give him complete immunity for these crimes in the states. This is the man who in 1985, tried to cover up and protect a local priest who was found raping young children.
He is the man that, in this day and age, will gladly give support for laws in Africa that will bring about the persecution and death of the gay and lesbian communities.
He is a disgrace to all the good men and woman of your faith who try to live a good and honest life, who treat others as their neighbors and friends. 
I hope the next Pope actually understands that the world is changing and that we DO NOT want to see this kind of rubbish tarnish what is meant to help those in need.

Bill912 February 12, 2013 at 3:21 am

@Stuart OBrien
 This is your brain on drugs.

Stuart OBrien February 12, 2013 at 4:25 am

Not at all, this is a brain that doesn’t follow a man who has done more harm than good for your religion. Granted, I do not follow your text and beliefs but my wife and her family plus my family are Catholic and they are amazing people who treated me with great love and respect. 
In return, I’ll defend what they believe and when I see a vile, disturbing man like this current Pope destroying what my family cherish as their faith, I feel offended to see others of the same faith try to defend him.
This man has done nothing to remove the rot that is in his church. All he tries to do is cover it up with a rug and hope we don’t notice that their are children being raped and others dying of HIV/AID’s.
Did you know that the Vatican has paid almost $3 billion dollars towards victims of rape from priests? 
I’m not trying to insult anyone. I’m not verbally or physically threatening anyone. I’m just pointing out the corruption this pope has been defending.

Bill912 February 12, 2013 at 5:21 am

@Stuart OBrien
 Ignorance, hatred, and bigotry usually do go together.  This hateful bigot is a “glittering jewel of colossal ignorance”.

Bill912 February 12, 2013 at 5:27 am

@Stuart OBrien
 Actually, his problem is not so much ignorance; it is that he “knows” so many things that just are not so.

Deacon Harbey February 12, 2013 at 6:51 am

@Stuart OBrien Did you know that the Vatican has paid almost $3 billion dollars towards victims of rape from priests?” Here you show your ignorance of all things Catholic. “The Vatican” is a small city state of about 109 acres in the Italian city of Rome. “The Vatican” has not paid a penny to viitims of the abuse scandal, dioceses around the world have.
“Viva Cristo Rey!!”

Lonnie Hortick February 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

Stuart OBrien why is he a bigot? Because he DEFENDS traditional marriage because that is the way it is in the Bible? Or don’t you believe in the Bible? I hope the next Pope has the same conservative values. Left-leaning Catholics are CINO (Catholics in Name ONLY). Pelosi, Biden, Kerry and Sebelius are just a few of the CINO’s in Washington. I admire Pope Benedict XVI. He is a good and holy man. Can you actually show documented PROOF of those fallacies you are espousing? I am praying for you.

bemkapeace February 12, 2013 at 4:13 am

@Stuart OBrien Are you serious? But you are the man who knows NOTHING!

Deacon Harbey February 12, 2013 at 7:02 am

@Stuart OBrien He is the man that, in this day and age, will gladly give support for laws in Africa that will bring about the persecution and death of the gay and lesbian communities.” The Pope has never endorsed this in fact the Ugandan Church has strongly spoken against this. here is a link for you with the facts:
I advise you that you endeavor in learning what the truth is before posting publicly, it will save you further embarrassment, but more importantly…It will set you free.
“Viva Cristo Rey!!”

Peipappy February 12, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Suart it is apparant from your response that you get your information from the liberal leaning media. If you want to really know what the Church of your parents and the Church of your souse  really teaches and supports then you should be reading some of their literature and along with news agencies that follow religious responses to world wide secularism. I would like to suggest you start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the online Christian news agency Life Site News.

John Norman February 12, 2013 at 6:40 am

What a great post.  I too felt the same way when I heard the news.  I was disappointed.  Not in him or his decision, but because I too valued his time as pope.  I felt bad for feeling disappointed, but your words here help.  I am now happy for him and can be as excited as all my kids are so interested in how a new pope is ellected…their first new pope.

VedanayagaRichard February 12, 2013 at 8:21 am

This is exactly I thouht of the resignation. To be true to the god in service and which he could not render justice to the ministry the longing of our beloved pope to hand over the ship to a safe hand is quiet understandable considering his odd age. Let god take care of him and his blessed soul.

StephenKorsman February 12, 2013 at 9:18 am

I think the Holy Father knows something we do not about what is coming, and he knows that the person to deal with it is to follow him.  He is being spared that, yet he will see it begin.

JRS February 12, 2013 at 11:33 am

It looks like the encylical will be published, but not as an encyclical.  I’m afraid that will be confusing to people.  I do thing that the fact that he is resigning despite not having finished this is evidence that the situation, whatever it is, is so acute that he does not feel he can handle even a few more months as Pope.

UnderMarysMantle February 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I have to be honest. I feel a little abandoned, like I would if my own father said he could no longer be my parent. At Mass this morning, others expressed the same emotion. Yes, Canon law allows for it, but it still feels unsettling.
I remind myself the Holy Spirit is in control, and that is our Comfort. All will work out.
Still, I’m sad, confused.

jfm1958 February 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Are we going to be prepared for all the end times people who are going to say this is the last pope.

Jay D February 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm

When he becomes the former Pope, will he still be named Benedict?

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