11 February 2013, 20:05

Benedict XVI quits: Vatican confused

Benedict XVI quits: Vatican confused

The Vatican is confused: Pope Benedict XVI, 85, has announced his abdication and plans to quit on Feb. 28, saying he is stepping down being too weak to fulfill his duties. A voluntary papal resignation is rare, especially in recent centuries so Russian experts discuss what will happen to the Roman Catholic world.

In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI became the 265th pope and was the oldest Pontiff elected since the late 18th century.

In his resignation statement, Benedict 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” appearing at the ceremony of canonization of the martyrs of Otranto Monday.

The Cardinals were caught by surprise with this announcement, Vatican expert Alexei Bukalov told the VoR.

"As one of the cardinals put it, everyone was “very shaken by the unexpected news”. The announcement was a surprise though popes have a right to resign and some of them went to monasteries in the middle ages. But Benedict XVI was the first pope to leave voluntarily in six centuries."

Some skeptics say the true reason for Benedict’s resignation were scandals in the Holy See, like numerous charges against pedophile priests or conflictsin the Curia after Benedict XVI gave the top post of secretary of state to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Expert in religious studies Alexei Yudin has another version of the leave.

"These scandals were very unlikely to affect the Pope personally. They threatened no catastrophic aftermaths."

Another expert, Yuri Tabal, thinks that Pope’s insufficient vigor has nothing to do with the resignation.

"No Pope resigns voluntarily due to insufficient vigor as it’s a very honored post and popes, the same as secular rulers, leave it reluctantly. There are many questions to Benedict XVI, especially taking into account his turbulent papacy. May be he saw pressure from the Cardinals who favored his predecessor John Paul II more."

The new Pontiff will be elected by a Conclave in the late March. Cardinals eligible to vote will be sequestered within Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy. Ballots are burned after each round. White smoke signals that cardinals have chosen pope.

The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk voiced hope that Benedict’s successor will safeguard Christian values and contribute to the development of ties between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.


Next pope likely to be chosen before the end of March - Vatican spokesman

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters that a conclave to choose a successor could be held within 15 or 20 days of the resignation on February 28.

A new pope will probably be elected by the end of March, a Vatican spokesman said on Monday, after Pope Benedict left his aides "incredulous" with his announcement that he would resign because he was too weak to fulfill the duties of his office.

Benedict said he would step down on Feb. 28 and would not take part in the conclave to elect a new pope, Father Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican.

After resigning, the former pope will move to a summer residence near Rome. After that, he will live in a former monastery within Vatican territory, Lombardi said.

'It was Pope’s personal decision' - Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI has resigned not because of "difficulties in the papacy", Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman told reporters Monday.

"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."

Lombardi added that Pope plans to pray and write books after his duties are over on Feb 28.

Benedict XVI announced his resignation in a statement Monday. The name of the new Pontiff will be revealed in March.

Pope Benedict XVI says he no longer has strength to fulfill ministry due to advanced age

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he would resign on Feb 28 because he no longer had the strength to fulfill the duties of his office.

"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," he said according to a statement from the Vatican.

The Pope has explained his decision to a meeting of cardinals, saying his strength has "deteriorated" in the last few months.

"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," he told the meeting.

"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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

French President Francois Hollande has described the Pope's decision to resign as "eminently respectable".

Meanwhile, a government spokesman in the Pope's home nation of Germany has expressed "respect" and "gratitude" for the Pope in response.

"The federal government has the greatest possible respect for the Holy Father, for his accomplishments, for his life-long work for the Catholic Church," said Steffen Seibert.

Pope Benedict XVI to step down on Feb. 28

Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is going to resign on February 28.

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced he will resign on February 28, a Vatican spokesman told reporters, which will make him the first pope to do so in centuries.

"The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on February 28," said the spokesman, Federico Lombardi.

Voice of Russia, Interfax, Reuters, ANSA, AFP, BBC

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