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Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Explains Decision to Resign

Pope explains decision to resign 'My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of my ministry'
11 February 2013

Dear Brothers,

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 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


  1. When I first heard this, this morning, I didn't think it could happen. Then I went off to Wikipedia, found out it can and has happened, the last time 600 years ago. Now, the irreverent side of me wants to know; what is an appropriate retirement gift? A wristwatch?

    1. Yes, the Pope can resign. It is a beautiful example of knowing when the leave the stage gracefully. Pope John Paul II did not want to create precedent to resign because it has not been a precedent in a while, but with modern technology and medical advances, we can keep people alive for a much greater length of time. However, it is nice when a person in his or her last years decides they will live more simply and prayerfully. May Pope Benedict be able to care for his health in his time of diminishment.

  2. I was totally surprised when I heard the news this morning and I thought about the Pope's wisdom and grace in knowing that this is the time that God is calling him to move on. God will continue to call on Pope Benedict XVI as God, no doubt, has a plan for him.

    1. Yes. As you say, he is showing us great wisdom and grace. May he have a blessed time in retirement. He deserves to age peacefully after all he has given the church.

  3. Father, What do you think of organ transplants?
    My question is in regard to modern technology and medical advances.
    I’m afraid that my question is actually not relevant to pope’s decision to resign but I have long wondered that whether it is a right behavior or decision to artificially prolong human life by organ transplants.
    Sometimes, It seems we go against God’s will about life by doing that.

    1. Yu-jin, it will depend upon each individual's conscience. If a sibling would died if she did not have a properly functioning kidney and I was a suitable donor, I would donate it to her. If it were bone marrow, I'd do it too. The situation is key to discerning what to do.

      There is an awful black market for organ donors. That frightens me. We want to save the lives of many people whom we love. If I were to die untimely, I might donate my organs so that others may have life. It is giving one's life for another.

      However, as you suspect, it can all get complicated.