Breaking news: Pope Benedict to resign on February 28
11 February 2013 • Persistent link: iarccum.org/?p=4386
In a surprise announcement, this morning Pope Benedict XVI informed the cardinals gathered in Consistory that he has decided to resign effective February 28 for health reasons. The resignation apparently surprised even his closest of aides. The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415 during the Council of Constance as a means of resolving the Western Schism. The Vatican expects a conclave will elect the next pope before the end of March. Benedict XVI is not expected to take part in the conclave to elect his successor. The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, announced that Benedict would retire to Castel Gandolfo after his resignation and will eventually take up residence in a cloistered monastery within the Vatican. More details are expected in the coming weeks.
The following announcement was posted on the Vatican website.
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 barque 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
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 paragraph 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 on 1 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.”
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.