Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Benedict XVI resigns

The decision of Benedict XVI to resign as pope with effect from 8 p.m. Italian time on 28/2/2013 came as a surprise. Some put it as a bolt from the blue. Recently he had opened a twitter account. Some said it is not a job from which one usually retires. He is likely to spend some time in Castel Gandolfo and then in a monastery. Previous and only clear case of voluntary papal abdication or resignation during peace time was of Celestine V in 1294. Gregory XII resigned in 1415 to end Great Schism. It was not civil war as some said. At that time there were three popes and it was necessary that he resign to end the confusion. Other popes had to resign under pressure.
The announcement came during a consistory on 11 February 2013, feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of Sick and two days before Ash Wednesday. He had deeply examined his conscience. He felt he was unable to carry on as he lacked strength of mind and body due to advanced age. He was incapable to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to him. He had the right and duty to resign. He thanked the cardinals and asked pardon for his defects. Benedict XVI’s decision is in contrast to John Paul II who carried on till death in spite of his sicknesses like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and so on. John Paul II considered papacy as a cross to be carried.
Benedict XVI, baptismal name Joseph Alois Ratzinger, was born on 16/4/1927 at Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany. He was professor of theology at Regensburg, Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal, and Prefect of Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, among other things.
Benedict XVI was elected pope on 19/4/2005. He allowed Tridentine Mass. He tried for Christian unity and lifted the ban on Society of St. Pius X and created personal ordinariates for Anglicans who wanted to join Catholic Church and retain Anglican liturgy. He visited many countries. He proclaimed Year of Faith which began on 11/10/2012 and ends on 24/11/2013. He started new evangelizaton for Catholics who had developed amnesia for God. His two acts disappointed me. One, he gave up the title Patriarch of the West. Two, he opposed death penalty.
Benedict XVI is blamed for the decisions he took as prefect on sex abuse scandals by priests. There were scandals in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Malta and USA. As pope he met some victims of child sex abuse.
How will be Benedict XVI known after his retirement? Will it be Benedict XVI (Emeritus) or Joseph Alois Ratzinger? Will he be a private citizen? If so, will he face prosecution in criminal cases? We will know in due course.
It is likely that the next pope will be a European because 62 out of 118 eligible cardinals are from Europe.

Updated: February 12, 2013 — 7:46 am

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