A Spokesman of the Vatican, Fredrico Lombardi has announced that Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic Church will resign with effect from 28th February, 2013. Street Journal gathered that Pope Benedict who became the Pope after the death of Pope John Paul II 8 years ago has stated that his strength is no longer adequate to continue in office due to advanced age.
Lombardi has however announced that the election of a new Pope would be done soon as he said a conclave would be held between 15 and 20 days after the resignation, an indication that a new Pope would be named before the end of March.
Pope Benedict XVI was elected as Pope at 78 years of age, one of the oldest men to assume the position in recent times. The last Pope that resigned was Gregory XII in 1415 while Pope Celestine V who abdicated in 1294.
The announcement is being received with shock in most parts of the world especially since most people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike have never heard of such.
How Popes Are Chosen
After the death or resignation of a Pope, a College of Cardinals meets in conclave in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Though election procedures have been changed countless times, Pope Benedict altered the rules on assumption of office by announcing that a new Pope must be elected by at least a two-thirds majority, no matter how many rounds of voting it takes. This he did in a “moto proprio” or personal decree.
As a rule, the electoral conclave must meet at least 15 days or not later than 20 days after the death or resignation of a Pope. The cardinals who make up the electoral body must take an oath of secrecy before entering the conclave and breaking of the oath is punishable by instant excommunication. The cardinals are kept in total isolation with only a cook and a Doctor attending to them.
When a cardinal is elected, he is asked if he agrees to become the Pope and also asked for the name he wishes to be known by. That done, he becomes the Pontifex Maximus, the Holy Roamn Pontiff. That is followed by the eagerly awaited announcement on the main balcony of the Vatican by the Dean of head of the college of Cardinals that “Habemus Papam” (we have a Pope) after which the new Pope appears and pronounces papal blessings.
Below is the full text of Pope Benedict’s resignation:
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 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”.
BENEDICTUS PP XVI