February 15 2013 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
THE CATHOLIC HERALD
‘NOW, LET US ENTRUST THE CHURCH TO JESUS CHRIST’
Benedict XVI becomes the first pope in almost 600 years to abdicate
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BY MARK GREAVES
POPE BENEDICT XVI has announced that he will abdicate in less than two weeks’ time as he no longer has the strength to “adequately” fulfil his ministry as pope.
His declaration, which shocked Catholics across the world, means he will become the first pope since
Gregory XII in 1415 to step down. In an address to cardinals he said he had “repeatedly examined his conscience” over the decision.
Pope Benedict said: “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.” He said that the modern world, “subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith”, required a pope who had “strength of mind and body”.
The Pope said: “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.” In his address, which was delivered calmly in Latin, he said he wished to serve the Church in future through “a life dedicated to prayer”.
At six o’clock that evening lightening struck the dome of St Peter’s. The next day Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said that after the Pope resigns at 8pm on February 28 he will move first to Castel
Gandolfo, a papal villa outside Rome, and then to a small monastery in the Vatican Gardens.
The period between popes, known as the interregnum, will begin the moment Benedict XVI resigns. It is expected that the conclave to elect his successor will take place in March and that the Church will have a new pope by
Easter. At his general audience on Wednesday Benedict XVI was given rapturous applause. “During these difficult days I have felt, almost physically, your love,” he said. “Continue to pray for me, the Church and the future pope.”
He said he knew that Christ would always guide the Church with care.
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