Pope Benedict Announces Retirement
Pope thanks the faithful
Thousands of Catholics have bid an emotional farewell to the Pope, at two of his final public appearances. Benedict, seen by the public for the first time since announcing his resignation, looked tired but healthy as he began his General Audience in a big Vatican audience hall, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
He was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation, and then sat and read a speech to the audience. He began with his reasons for resigning – the same he gave to a meeting of cardinals on Monday.
“I have (decided to resign) for the good of the Church, after much prayer and having examined my conscience … realising that I am no longer able to carry out the Petrine ministry with the strength which it demands,” he said.
His talk focused on the beginning of Lent, and followed a theme of the tests of faith that a modern Christian is confronted with. He reiterated that it was the duty of a Christian to oppose abortion, euthanasia, and “the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases”.
Pope to Retire
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
Statement from Archbishop Denis Hart
Dear all: my few words:
Pope Benedict has announced that because of advanced age and failing strength he is unable to fulfill the heavy demands of office, and in full freedom, he will resign on 28 February.
After a lifetime of service as an eminent Theologian and Teacher, he was elected Pope in April 2005.
Millions of Catholics are grateful for his holiness and teaching, and are encouraged by his gentle and loving service.
As he retires to a life of prayer for the Church, we remember with gratitude and prayer his faithfulness to the call given him as Vicar of Christ and chief pastor of the universal Church.
+ Denis Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne
Pope Benedict XVI shows courage passing on the mantle of leadership.
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has written to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity assuring that it will uphold the Roman Catholic Church in prayer at this time as the news of the resignation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is received by the world.
The Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary said “It is with surprise that we hear the news from the Holy Father recognising that both his poor health and concern for the leadership of the Church has led to the announcement that he will retire from office on 28 February. This is a time to uphold the Pope’s health in prayer and also the Conclave as it convenes to elect the next Pontiff.”
Ms Curlewis recalled how during the 2008 World Youth day Pope Benedict XVI met with both ecumenical and inter-religious leaders. During his address to ecumenical leaders the Pope said “Every element of the Church’s structure is important, yet all of them would falter and crumble without the cornerstone who is Christ. As “fellow citizens” of the “household of God”, Christians must work together to ensure that the edifice stands strong so that others will be attracted to enter and discover the abundant treasures of grace within.”
“Clearly it is from a place of prayer and discernment as well as his conviction as to the importance of every aspect of the church and particularly the importance of good leadership that has brought Pope Benedict XVI to this momentous decision.” said Ms Curlewis. “The mantle of leadership can weigh heavy on those to whom it is entrusted and it is never easy to lay it aside. I have much respect for the courage of the Holy Father and along with the church universal will pray for his health and his successor.”