Just woke up and turned on the TV but couldn’t find the controller so only saw the pictures of the pope and talk of an election, it wasn’t until about 4 minutes later that I found out that Benedict XVI will resign effective Feb 28th.
I was rather surprised it was a contrast to Pope John Paul II who stayed on as an example of perseverance but of course it is up to the pope who decide if he is physically capable of doing the job.
Apparently he has been told he can’t take trips and in the modern Era that has become an intrinsic part of the job. In an internet age I’m not so sure.
It also hits me as Pope emeritus he can have a much more intimate connection to the faithful via twitter. He can continue to write and directly communicate to the faithful using social media. I think this would be an excellent use of his time.
It also occurs to me that as a living pope rather than a dead one it will be interesting to see what effect his presence will be on who is elected to replace him.
Expect MANY updates
Update: I predict this tweet will prove absolutely correct:
I hate assuming that @twitchyteam would have a post on hatred for the Pope, going there, and being right – People are just so sick
— Cameron Gray (@Cameron_Gray) February 11, 2013
But I reiterate his primary ministry should now be on twitter Here is the full statement from the Vatican Site:
Dear Brothers, 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
Update 2: That didn’t take long:
.@pontifexDon’t worry, in a few months you’ll be laughing about this. With Hitler in Hell.
— Frankie Boyle (@frankieboyle) February 11, 2013
Almost 1000 retweets too, on the bright side Frankie Boyle believes in Hell, that means he might just figure it out during his lifetime. I’m with Elizabeth Scalia, all this will do is cause the Holy Father to pray for him, and as he’ll be in retirement he will have much more time for prayer.
Update 3: Damien Thompson:
there has always been a suspicion that Joseph Ratzinger would step down from office if he became incapacitated: he has a radical and stubborn streak in him that means he would take advantage of the facility to resign the throne of Peter if he felt it necessary for the good of the Church.
But still: Catholics will be deeply shocked and, in most cases, dismayed by this decision, which I see above all as an act of self-sacrifice by a man not prepared to see the Church suffer as a result of his increasing frailty.
He also makes a very important point that may have driven this decision:
my own feeling is that he has had to shoulder the burden of scandals that should have broken many years before he became pope, and also that his personal culpability as the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog during that period should not be exaggerated. John Paul II rather than Benedict XVI can be accused of turning a blind eye to certain abominations, not least to the Mexican child abuser the late Fr Marcel Maciel, whom Benedict sent into disgraced exile as soon as he became Pope. One reason Maciel was not dealt with in time was that John Paul II was too ill and, let us be honest, mentally enfeebled to confront Maciel’s crimes. Ratzinger has been determined from the beginning not to allow the same situation to overtake him.
ABC is running a loop of pope news from his election to his resignation. Cool idea.
Update 4: Ed Morrissey
Again, just to give some historical perspective, the last time this happened, Gutenberg hadn’t yet invented the printing press. What does it mean for the Catholic Church today, with 1.2 billion faithful and the state of the Vatican in the balance? Administratively, not much. The Vatican and the Church operate without a Pope when one dies, and the same mechanisms will carry out the day-to-day functions of both the Church and the state until a successor is chosen by the College of Cardinals. If anything, that will proceed in a more orderly fashion, with the head start provided by Benedict XVI’s notice.
Spiritually, of course, it’s another matter entirely. Benedict XVI is one of the Church’s greatest living theologians, and has been a highly-respected leader of faith in his pontificate. It’s impossible not to compare him to his predecessor Blessed John Paul, whose pontificate lasted for decades and who had a tremendous impact on the world and governed the Church through a renewal of faith, but that comparison will probably be a little unfair to Benedict XVI. The manner of his leaving, though, begs for that kind of comparison. Blessed John Paul took the traditional route of holding the office to his death despite suffering from Parkinson’s, a disease that ravaged his body but left his mind clear. Benedict XVI makes explicit mention of concerns over the state of his “mind and body” and a deterioration in one or both that has created an “incapacity,” which leaves the impression that one of the most brilliant minds in the Church may be dimming, and that Benedict XVI has decided to forego the difficulties this would cause the Church and allow another to take his place. That itself is a significant sacrifice, and perhaps an important act of humility.
On Morning Joe it seems all about race and politics and little about the faith. Why am I not surprised?
Pope Benedict’s resignation has been planned for some time – Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, knew about it before Christmas – but it is still a stunning shock to the outside world. No pope has willingly resigned since Pope Celestine V in 1294.
Meanwhile a piece of twitter snark that speaks volumes:
With the hate going to the #Pope today I recommend Obama issue an apology and blame a YouTube video before some Catholics attack an embassy
— End of the Republic (@PointlessPol) February 11, 2013
That’s gonna leave a mark.
Update 6: the Deacon’s bench has a roundup including a brief history of popes who have resigned.
In Light of the World, Pope Benedict responded unambiguously to a question about whether a pope could resign: “Yes. If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.”
Bloomberg tells where he is heading:
Pope Benedict will have no role in choosing his successor, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said at a press conference in Rome. The pope will initially retire to his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo before transferring to live in a convent, Lombardi said.
CBS quotes the pope’s brother on his health:
Talking from his home in Regensburg to the news agency dpa, Georg Ratzinger said his brother was having increasing difficulty walking and that his resignation was part of a “natural process.” “His age is weighing on him,” the 89-year-old said of his 85-year-old brother. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”
Washington Post pushes an out of Europe pope:
At a time when the church is declining in its former stronghold of Europe, but gaining strength its in Africa, Asia and Latin America, pressure is growing on the college of cardinals – the global princes of the church – to break with tradition by electing a non-European pope.
CNN notes the evolution of this pope came during the 60’s:
As a young priest, Ratzinger was on the progressive side of theological debates, but began to shift right after the student revolutions of 1968, CNN Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. said.
Update 7: Film Ladd Tweets:
— Film Ladd (@FilmLadd) February 11, 2013
Given what is happening in the US and the persecution of the Church both in the flesh and in the media this sounds less crazy than it might have a week ago.
While the NYT plays finds an interesting piece to remember:
In 2006, less than two years into his papacy, Benedict stirred ire across the Muslim world, referring in a long, scholarly address to a conversation on the truths of Christianity and Islam that took place between a 14th-century Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, and a Persian scholar.
“The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” the pope said. “He said, I quote, ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’”
While making clear that he was quoting someone else, Benedict did not say whether he agreed or not. He also briefly discussed the Islamic concept of jihad, which he defined as “holy war,” and said that violence in the name of religion is contrary to God’s nature and to reason.
Update 8: Whispers in the Loggia comments:
The lone item of canon law to even mention a pontiff’s resignation is Canon 332, paragraph 2, which states that “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”
Along the same lines, there is no protocol whatsoever for the titles or status of a retired Pope.
and he notes a clue that everyone missed this weekend
On Friday, Benedict raised some eyebrows by having a rare private audience with the Dean of the College of Cardinals, the 85 year-old Italian Angelo Sodano, the figure who would be responsible for the convoking of a papal election. The departing pontiff ostensibly communicated his plan to the Cardinal-Dean at that point.
Update 9: Think Progress lists “progressive” steps by the outgoing Pope:
– A fair and equitable economy. “[T]he economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good,” he said in 2011 during a visit to Spain. In a 2009 treatise, the pontiff called for protections for “labour unions — which have always been encouraged and supported by the Church,” the elimination of world hunger through “wealth redistribution,” the protection of the “natural environment” — “God’s gift to everyone” — from unchecked economic expansion, and a strengthened “family of nations,” like the U.N. with “real teeth.”
Every MSM news outlet seems to be talking about a possible Latin American or African Pope, I think the MSM is automatically assuming such a pope would be “progressive” the reality is such a pope is likely to be more conservative.
Update 11: Larry O’Connor raises a concern
At a time when the culture of death champions the despicable ideas of euthanasia and abortion, it was inspirational to see the Pope continuing his critically important work through his affliction. Pope Benedict said in his statement (emphasis mine), “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.” Frankly, I hope that this resignation is motivated by the Holy Father’s concern over his mental capacity versus his physical capacity otherwise he risks undermining the final, powerful statement about the dignity of life demonstrated by his remarkable predecesor.
It’s a fair point, but one of the most important aspects of the church is its dichotomy. The kingship of Christ and the humility of Christ. Loving the sinner and hating the sin. The last being first and the first last. Helping the poor while encouraging work and effort, faith vs works.
Benedict by his resignation is not making any less of the heroic example of his predecessor, it instead completes the lesson by stressing the delicate balance the Christian has to walk, as Christ put it himself:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17
This is just a different lesson, no less important.
Update 12: Kathryn Jean Lopez answers Larry O’Connor without meaning to.
Update 13:Lots of jokes going around twitter, some are taking offense, I don’t after all God proved he had a sense of humor by creating man, but it takes real skill to make a joke about this subject without being disrespectful. Will be interesting to see how the late night comics do it.
Speculation continues about who will replace Benedict XVI. In my mind other than the obvious qualification of faith and love of Christ the most important qualification for the position of Pope is not wanting the job but being willing to say “Here I am Lord” if called.
And here’s a thought, will he be still referred to as Pope Benedict XVI or Joseph Ratzinger (I’m betting the former. What is the protocol?
Update 14: Fr. Robert Sirico at the corner on handicapping the “race”
Anyone who tells you there is a “front-runner” simply does not know what he is talking about. The ripening period for “papabili” to emerge has just begun, though were I forced to identify one or two possibilities, I would look at the Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet (head of the Congregation of Bishops), or Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan (the Italians very much want the papacy back), or even Cardinal George Pell from Australia. If we are hoping for an American, of course, the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan would be great.
Remember one does not have to be a Cardinal to be a pope. Meanwhile Brad Dayspring manages to thread the needle between funny and respectful:
So the Pope is resigning.Is it something we did? #catholicguilt
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) February 11, 2013
Meanwhile Senator John Barassao (R-WY) on MSNBC calls it a precedent setting decision. Interesting conjecture.
Update 15: And on the 15th update we hear from the Anchoress:
John Paul II’s deterioration was hard to watch, but one of the lessons it taught us was that age and illness does not diminish the worth of a person; that was an important, nay, urgent message that had to be delivered to this increasingly utilitarian age.
Perhaps Benedict’s retirement is meant to remind this exceedingly busy world — the non-stop, twenty-four-hour-live and very self-important world — that we are none of us indispensable; that there comes a time to step back, throw oneself into the arms of the Lord and trust that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
and Fr Dwight Longenecker:
When Benedict XVI created the Anglican Ordinariate he made history. Never before had a new structure been established to allow Protestants to have their own “church within the Church”. Benedict used the new media as no other Pope had done, churned out brilliant Biblical studies making clear that he was writing as a theologian and not the successor of Peter. Building on the legacy of Bl. John Paul, he embraced the reforms of the Second Vatican Council at the same time showing us how tradition can continue without turning back the clock. All of these, in one way or another, are great surprises.
Now he surprises us again.
Meanwhile the left as always, contemplates a church made it its own image.
Update 16: Two interesting Muslim perspectives at Pathos
I can’t get over the idea that this very, very rare thing came from a place of reflection – a reflection, as Elizabeth writes, that none of us are indispensable. And as immensely difficult as it must be, sometimes we must acknowledge that we must step back and trust that all will be well, all will move forward and God will provide.
and facebook from Sheikh Yasir Qadhi
one must admit that it does take courage for a man to publicly admit that he is not qualified for a job (especially his!). Jokes about his resignation are going viral, but if he resigned because he felt too old to do justice to his position, then I for one have respect for that honesty.
and I really liked the comment from one Abu Adman in comments:
That he resigned is probably clear evidence that he IS the right man for the job.
Update 17: National Catholic Reporter:
Today, the pope indicated that the Petrine ministry is a ministry, a very specific ministry to be sure, but more of a job than a vow.
The second immediate take-away is that Pope Benedict needs to take every step very carefully in the next few days and weeks. Each step will be a precedent.
I agree with the 2nd but not the first but the whole article seems hint at a desire for a pope acceptable to MSNBC.
I have written again and again that the SSPX was going to wake up one day and experience the bad end of the stick. That day is coming, probably with the election of the next Pope which is now a lot closer than I thought it would be.
The membership of the SSPX should converge on Rome this week. They should, all together, crawl on hands and knees across St. Peter’s Square and stay there until the Pope will admit them. They should beg the Pope to let them kiss his shoe, accept their promises of obedience, and the regularize them before he resigns.
A lot of consequences to this act that has not occurred to people yet.
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It’s a new week and my goal each week is a $300 dollar paycheck. The question if I get one or not? That’s up to you.