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.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
God bless Pope Benedict XVI!
Father, please explain to us how the Church will run until the new Pope is elected BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. Of course, I don’t know when the election will take place. The new Pope could be chosen before the 28th.
Could you explain?
May the next Holy Father have his boxing gloves ready!
I have feelings of shock and sadness at this news. I feel like Lent has started 2 days early this year. Yesterday, for the first time in several years, I attended an extra Mass in the EF at a Church in our area in an effort to develop a greater appreciation for the Mass in Latin out of love for our Holy Father. Along with so many, I will be offering prayers for him and our Church.
While I’m not Father Geiger, I believe such a question can be answered.
While the Church is in a state of sede vacante, the Church is ran by the College of Cardinals together. There really won’t be much of a difference for most people. The only difference is after the 28th and until the new election of the Pope, you won’t hear the Pope’s name in the Canon of the Mass. All Bishops, being successors to the Apostles in their own right (and by that extension all priests) maintain their authority and sacred character.
The papacy was an office designed for the Church, not the Church for the papacy. In the end, the Pope is but a vicar of Jesus Christ, who still runs the Church overall.
Thank you, Kevin, for answering my question. I suppose Father Angelo is busy.
I went to an evening Mass tonight in honor of Our Lady, and the priest asked us to pray for the Cardinals so that they may have courage and wisdom to choose a wise and holy Pope to lead the Church through these though times. I feel like Holy Mother Church is in the middle of a schism and it breaks my heart to see it.
My thought was, if the Holy Spirit, is ultimately in charge of choosing the Vicar of Christ on earth, is it really necessary to pray for these graces? Or should we be praying for the Cardinals to be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit? I know men (and women) can often miss the whisperings of the Paraclete.
I can’t wait to see the white smoke, and hear the words, “Habemus Papam!”
Thank you again.
I’d say pray for all things. We need good leaders. We need good Cardinals to be open to the spirit’s prompting. While in the end “fiat voluntas tua”, sinful human beings can cause an awful lot of chaos and confusion on the path to God’s will being done.
I think most importantly is this is a time for us to be better versions of ourselves. Catholics not living up to their vocations and duties certainly isn’t making the job any easier for the Pope and the other leaders. They need to improve, but so do we.
The next reigning Pope is already known to God, and has been since the beginning of time. That is enough for me to say, “fiat voluntas tua”. I will pray during this holy season for the Cardinals to choose wisely, because prayer is never wasted, but in the end I know God is at the helm of Peter’s bark, and He will not let the gates of hell prevail against her.
I wish everyone would say what you just said, ‘we must be better versions of ourselves’. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday; time for a new beginning.
God bless you.
All might be interested to know the fact that Pope St. Pontian was enslaved by the Roman Emperor in the salt mines of Sardinia in 235. Since this Holy Father knew that he could not adequately carry out the duties of the Vicar of Christ in his situration, he resigned, and a new pope took the helm of Peter’s barque.
Since the Father in heaven has given us Christ, has He also not given us all things with Him. This paraphrase of St. Paul should bring us comfort. The Holy Spirit is in charge, and He will give us a Supreme Pontiff who will guard, preserve, and expound the deposit of faith. However, it would not be unwise to pray that God will give us a saint as His Vicar on earth.
We are truly in a golden age of the papacy since Blessed Pius IX. Only the first three centuries were better with all popes that were saints–most martyrs also.
May I suggest that one go the the EWTN document library and read the marvelous short essay on the papal magisterium by the late Cardinal Gilroy.
I love the words of Cardinal Arinze in this interview posted by Catholic News Service –
Pope Benedict XVI will change the rules governing a papal conclave to allow an earlier election of his successor, according to Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa. The Vatican has confirmed that the Pontiff is considering such an amendment.
The final blessing: Pope Benedict’s last general audience