The big news today is that the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict, in an unprecedented move, has resigned.
My first reaction upon hearing the news was, ‘It’s good he’s resigning; he was a waste of space.’ I’ve never been a huge fan of Pope Benedict. I am a very liberal Catholic and the Pope is extremely conservative. We are like any religion in that there’s a broad spectrum of beliefs, ranging from extreme liberal to extreme conservative. It’s only fitting that the head of the Church would want to protect its conservative values.
But as the day wore on and I listened to the news and read more, I’m starting to have a lot of respect for a leader who came to a very difficult decision and realized he had to do what was best for the church, even if it meant tarnishing his legacy. For that, I want to thank Pope Benedict. To be in poor health and to make the decision to throw the Church into turmoil as it searches for a new leader, the poor Pope must have been in quite a bit of distress lately. I pray for him, in gratitude for his service (although we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye) and for his health.
If you haven’t read his full statement, here it is.
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, 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 recognise 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
BENEDICTUS PP XVI