Reasons why the Pope resigned

Popes are like traditional monarchs -- only the death of abdication can vacate the post they occupied but in a rare case, they can also abdicate or resign.

Five days after the the Holy Father stunned the world with his surprised resignation, I am still in a state of shock and continue searching for the best answers why he suddenly decided to end his term. My research and reading ventures brought me to different articles online and was even more shocked to read that the Pope's move had not surprised other Vatican officials, they knew it's inevitable, they were only caught-off-guard that it happened so fast.

"I always said if any pope would resign, it would be Benedict. This move was very characteristic of his personality. He never wanted to put himself at the center of things," Cardinal Kurt Koch, a close aide to Pope Benedict XVI who was in the room when the Roman Pontiff read his letter of resignation to the small group of cardinals, told Reuters in the interview.

The articles I'd read enlightened me thoroughly and understood the position of Pope Benedict XVI better. Two of these articles came from credible sources so I will be sharing these articles to the rest of the readers of my blog to take a closer look on the real condition of the Pope and the legendary secrecy of Vatican City.
This is a re-post from THE NATIONAL POST

For an institution devoted to eternal light, the Vatican has shown itself to be a master of smokescreens since Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation announcement.

On Thursday, the Vatican spokesman acknowledged that Benedict hit his head and bled profusely while visiting Mexico in July. Two days earlier the same man acknowledged that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years, and underwent a secret operation to replace its battery three months ago.

And as the Catholic world reeled from shock over the abdication, it soon became clear that Benedict’s post-papacy lodgings have been under construction since at least the fall. That in turn put holes in the Holy See’s early claims that Benedict kept his decision to himself until he revealed it.

One of the most famous cases of Vatican secrecy was the Holy See’s efforts to cover up the fact that Pope John Paul I’s dead body was discovered by a nun. The eventual revelation helped fuel conspiracy theories over the death of the pope who ruled for only 33 days in 1978.

The Vatican is so obsessed with secrecy that the first and only official confirmation that John Paul II had Parkinson’s disease was in his death certificate.

The Vatican justifies itself by arguing that its officials are holders of the divine truth, unaccountable to worldly laws. In particular, the pope’s word is the final say on any issue — infallible on some doctrinal matters. But groups representing sex abuse victims, and other Catholics angered by the scandal, have been demanding modern standards of accountability and calling for reforms.

The Vatican brushed aside criticism for keeping quiet about the pope’s December pacemaker procedure, on grounds it was “routine.” One Vatican official said making the operation public would simply have led to a big and unnecessary commotion about the pope’s health. “You can imagine the satellite dishes in St. Peter’s square,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media

The front-man for the church’s dance of concealment and disclosure: Vatican spokesman The Rev. Federico Lombardi. In his briefings, Lombardi has been forced into the uncomfortable situation of keeping silent on aspects of the pope’s health and future, only to backpedal when confronted with reports in Italian newspapers.

In the latest disclosure, Turin’s La Stampa newspaper reported Thursday that Benedict hit his head on a sink and bled profusely when he got up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar bedroom in Leon, Mexico. The report said papal blood stained Benedict’s hair, his pillow and the floor.

Lombardi confirmed the incident but denied it played any role in the pope’s resignation. Still, suspicions are bound to be whetted, since the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported this week that Benedict had taken the decision to resign after the Mexico-Cuba trip, which was physically exhausting for the 85-year-old pope.

Then there’s the question of how many people knew of Benedict’s decision to retire.

On the day of the announcement the Vatican cast it as a bolt from the blue, saying almost nobody knew but Benedict himself. Soon, however, prominent clergymen – one not even Catholic – began changing the tone and saying they were not surprised.

“Knowing the pope well, there was something in the air that this decision of the pope was possible,” said Archbishop Piero Marini, master of papal ceremonies under Pope John Paul II. “So it was not a shock.”
 The Holy Father holding a weekly public audience at St. Peter's Square. 

Even the retired Arcbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Rowan Williams, says that based on his last meeting with Benedict a year ago he was not surprise at the decision to step down.

“Because of our last conversation I was very conscious that he was recognizing his own frailty and it did cross my mind to wonder whether this was a step he might think about,” Williams told Vatican Radio.

Renovation work on a convent previously occupied by cloistered nuns has been going on in secret since at least last fall, an issue apparently causing grumbling among cardinals about the choice of arrangements and whether Benedict’s presence on Vatican grounds will allow the retired pope to wield too much influence on his successor.

“I don’t think there was a consultation of the College of the Cardinals about this,” Lombardi said Wednesday, deflecting questions about Benedict’s living arrangements. “The decision and the process of the decision was very limited in the number of persons involved.”

That points to another aspect of Vatican secrecy: The habit of different wings of the Holy See jealously concealing information from one another.

“There is very little cross communication within Vatican departments,” Thavis said, “so one department may know something but that does not mean that the Curia office down the hall knows about it as well.”


This is a re-post from The Guardian UK

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world and left the Catholic church reeling when he said on Monday that he would resign – the first pope to do so since the middle ages. The move, announced without warning, will take place on 28 February and leave the papacy vacant until a successor is chosen. 

A Vatican spokesman said the pontiff's aides were "incredulous" when he told them he would step down because he was too weak to fulfil his duties. The pope summoned a meeting of cardinals to tell them of "a decision of great importance for the life of the church". One of those called to hear the announcement, the Mexican prelate Monsignor Dr Oscar Sánchez, said none of the cardinals had expected it. 

"The pope took a sheet of paper and read from it. He just said that he was resigning and that he would be finishing on February 28," he said. "The cardinals were just looking at one another. Then the pope got to his feet, gave his benediction and left. It was so simple; the simplest thing imaginable. Extraordinary. Nobody expected it. Then we all left in silence. There was absolute silence … and sadness." 

A deeply conservative pontiff, whose tenure has been overshadowed by sexual abuse scandals, Pope Benedict, 85, leaves with a chequered reputation after a papacy that was at times both conservative and divisive. One of the organisations representing victims of Catholic clergy in Ireland's notorious orphanages and industrial schools said the outgoing pontiff had broken his promise to offer justice for the crimes of priests and other members of religious orders. 

John Kelly, co-founder of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, said: "In our view we were let down in terms of promises of inquiries, reform and most importantly of all the Vatican continuing not to acknowledge that any priest or religious found guilty of child abuse would face the civil authorities and be tried for their crimes in the courts." 

The announcement of the resignation was immediately followed by intense speculation about a likely successor, with potential contenders including Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's office for bishops. Georg Ratzinger, the pope's brother, told the German media the papal resignation had been part of a "natural process". "My brother would like to have more rest in his old age," he said, adding that he had been informed of Benedict's plans some months ago. His successor is expected to be elected by the end of March and possibly for the beginning of holy week on 24 March. 

Pope Benedict will honour public commitments and engagements until the date of his resignation, after which he will move to a summer residence near Rome and then to a former monastery within Vatican territory. He will take no part in the process to elect a successor. Cardinals will meet and vote on nominees in a series of ballots until a new pope is chosen. 

 Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the pope had resigned not because of "difficulties in the papacy" or a specific illness but instead a progressive decline in his strength. "In the last few months he has seen a decline in vigour, both of the body and spirit," Lombardi told reporters. "It was his personal decision taken with full freedom, which deserves maximum respect." In a statement, the pontiff said: "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. 

"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." 

Benedict, who became the 265th pope in 2005, has arthritis, particularly in his knees, hips and ankles. He had been due to travel to Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world, in July for a youth festival, but concerns had been raised among Vatican observers about whether he was fit enough. 

A voluntary papal resignation is rare – certainly in recent centuries. Pope Celestine V exercised his right to abdicate in 1294. Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415 to end the western schism.

Again, this post is an article from The Guardian UK entitled "Pope Benedict XVI resigns owing to age and declining health"

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