See of Rome to Be Vacant on Feb. 28
Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation of the See of Rome Monday, February 11, 2013, during a consistory in which three canonizations were also announced. The following is the text of the Pope’s address as reported by the Zenit News Agency:
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
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, relayed to the world the news of Benedict XVI's resignation. Fr. Lombardi stated that the Holy Father has reflected on this decision for several months and is filled with a spiritual serenity as he faces his retirement.
Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that there is no specific sickness or ailment affecting Pope Benedict XVI at this time. Rather, Fr. Lombardi said, "He has recognized in the last few months with lucidity that his strength was weakening."
The decision to resign from the See of Rome was a personal decision of the Holy Father Fr. Lombardi continued, saying, "I don't believe that anyone has suggested this to him. This was a conscious decision that he made."
Fr. Lombardi explained that the Pontiff’s statement “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," is very significant from a juridical point of view. Canon Law stipulates that it is required for validity that a Pope’s resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone. Having been made with full freedom and in a public consistory this decision is consistent with the tenets of Canon Law.
Benedict XVI will continue to carry on his functions and his service as Pope until February 28 at 8:00 pm (Rome time). From that moment on the situation of Sede Vacante will begin, regulated, from a legal and canonical standpoint, by the texts referring to Sede Vacante in the Code of Canon Law and the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi dominici gregis' by John Paul II, regarding the Sede Vacante of the Apostolic See."
The new Supreme Pontiff is expected to be elected in time for Easter.
As for Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Lombardi stated that after he vacates the See of Rome, he will retire to a cloistered monastery within the Vatican.