On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict did what no popes before him had done. He announced that he intended to resign.
Charlotta Smedes – Vatican City
The pope had called for an ordinary church council to be held in the Vatican, which meant that cardinals residing in Rome were invited to participate in the meeting with the pope. Those gathered this morning expected the Pope to ratify the decree of canonization of the martyrs of Otranto and three other blessed ones, which he did. But then the Pope announced the news that no one expected. He read out his decision in Latin, in accordance with Canon 332, which required that “this decision be made freely and made public by the person concerned.”
“Having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strength, on account of my advanced age, is no longer fit for the proper performance of the office of Petrie. Well aware of the seriousness of this work, and in all liberty, I hereby resign the office with which I am entrusted Bishop of Rome, successor to Petri, by cardinals April 19, 2005.”
Benedict XVI during the Angels the following Sunday
Benedict XVI ended his pontificate on February 28, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. From that moment on, the papal seat was vacant, and they began to organize the Conclave, in which the Pope Emeritus did not participate, and which ended on the evening of March 13, 2013 with the election of Pope Francis.
The evening of February 28th was surreal for many when they saw the Pope’s white helicopter leaving the Vatican and at the same moment the papal see was vacant. Benedict XVI expressed his desire to live in Vatican City, in the monastery of Mater Ecclesiae, but he did not return from Castelgandolfo, where he had initially retired, until a new pope was elected.
He retained Benedict XVI’s official title of “Pope Emeritus”, and he still held the title of His Holiness, along with continuing to wear the simple white caftan, but without the pilgrimages and white ribbon. He undressed and put on his episcopal ring after his resignation.
The decision to leave the papacy was not a sudden one, rather it grew gradually over a long period of time. But this being a well-known hypothesis among his closest kin, he finally came to the intention of carrying out the decision.
“When the pope becomes aware of his inability to carry out his mission physically, mentally and spiritually, he has the right, under certain conditions, also to resign” – these are the words of Benedict XVI in the corresponding book “The Light of the World ”published in 2010. A year later, the moment came when In it the Church and the world found themselves with the first Pope Emeritus.
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