By ROBERT MOYNIHAN VATICAN CITY ó Pope Benedict XVI said on February 11 that he plans on resigning the papal office on February 28. Below please find his announcement.
The announcement comes on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, an important Marian feast day.
Benedict reportedly will retire to a monastery and devote the rest of his life to prayer. ( It is being reported that he will live henceforth in a monastic residence inside the Vatican.) It is reported that he will not be involved in the selection of the new Pope.
Note: I saw the Pope twice this week, once at a concert ( on Monday evening, February 4, where I was sitting about 20 yards away from him) and at his general audience on Wednesday. For a man of 85, he looked well, though he did seem tired. My sense of his decision, based on what I have seen in the past few days, is that he feels the challenges a Pope faces, including daily meetings and nearly daily public addresses, require a physical strength he feels he will soon lack.
And that is what he says in his statement below.
On Saturday, February 2, I intended a funeral Mass in St. Peterís Basilica for a cardinal who died that week ( Giovanni Cardinal Cheli). Pope Benedict was scheduled to attend, but at the very last minute, he canceled his attendance. This was an indication to me already Saturday evening that he was unusually tired ( he had spent several hours that morning with the Order of the Knights of Malta). Normally he would have been present at a cardinalís funeral.
At this moment, I have as many questions about this decision as all of you reading this. I am in Rome now, and will stay here to report as best I can on these unprecedented developments during the next few weeks. I will send out this newsletter covering all aspects of this unprecedented decision for the life of the Church: the reasons for the Popeís decision, the possible candidates to be elected as the next Pope, and the consequences for the Church and the world.
Here is the text of Popeís February 11 declaration to the College of Cardinals: 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 todayís 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 St. 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 St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on April 19, 2005, in such a way, that as from February 28, 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. 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, February 10, 2013 BENEDICTUS PP XVI
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