Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Last days of Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontificate: (I) The historical resignation announcement

Since Benedict XVI announced his resignation as Pope, many Catholics, non-Catholics, journalists and tourists have been trouping to the Eternal city to see this great man whose intellectual acumen -for the intellectuals, his faith - for the believers, his humility - for those in authority has just attained its apogee in these last days.

It took almost everybody by surprise, just like a thunder blast in cloudless sky, to use the expression of Cardinal Bagnasco. Some received it as a shock while others saw it as a sign of great humility, but in it all, the Pope has tried to clarify the matter by explaining to the world the real sense of his decision. From the first day, he made it clear that the decision was taken after a long moment of reflection. Here is his letter of 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 fulfil 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


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