The Pope’s address to the Consistory, followed by a brief reflection and commentary from Biltrix
The Official Story (from Vatican Radio)
Full text of Pope’s declaration
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
Saint Peter’s Chair
One of the things that struck me and stuck with me from Pope Benedict’s Inaugural Mass was the firm affirmation, “I am not the successor of John Paul II. I am the sucessor of Saint Peter.”
Pope Benedict understood well from the beginning of his pontificate the significance of his role in the Church and the importance of that role in every historical moment. The mission of the Pope is to Shepherd the people of God, to follow in the footsteps of the living Christ, not to fill the shoes of another mortal man.
Today, that mission comes with enormous challenges, several within the Church, and several facing it from the outside. The next successor of Peter will inherit a task that no man would want to carry on his shoulders. We thank Pope Benedict for his bravery and fidelity serving the Church during these very difficult years.
Incidentally, the Pope chose to announcement of his resignation at an opportune time. Later this month, on February 22, we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. In just over a week after that feast, the Chair will be vacant.
Let us remember two things as that occasion approaches. We honor and love the man for who he is, what he has done, and what he has given us during the past 8 years. Above all, we honor the man not just for who he is, but for the office he holds and the mission he bears as the Vicar of Christ.
“Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” — Luke 10:16
You might also be interested in reading:
- Cardinal Dolan: Benedict’s Papacy Highlighted His Pastoral, Scholarly, Holy Life
- National Catholic Register: Pope Benedict XVI to Step Down Feb. 28
- Public Catholic: A Few Quick Takes on Holy Father’s Resignation
- Catholic Vote: First Reactions to Pope Benedict’s Resignation
- Rome Reports: Length of Benedict XVI’s Pontificate
- Video: Fox News with Fr Jonathan Morris
From Archbishop Charles Chaput
From his work as a young theologian at Vatican II to his ministry as universal pastor of the Church, Joseph Ratzinger has served God and the global Christian community with intelligence, eloquence and extraordinary self-sacrifice.
As Pope Benedict XVI, he has led God’s people through complicated times with uncommon grace, and his stepping down now, at 85, from the burdens of his office is another sign of his placing the needs of the Church above his own. Catholics worldwide owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He will remain in our hearts and always be in our prayers.