Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement on Monday that he is resigning the papal office on Feb. 28, 2013, at 8 p.m. is unprecedented; at least for the past 600 years. What does Pope Benedict XVI plan to do once he is retired? Because of Pope Benedict’s decision to retire, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche answered in a Feb. 11, 2013, report the interesting question of what Pope Benedict XVI will do after his resignation.
In Pope Benedict’s own words,
“With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”
Like his two predecessors, Pope Benedict plans to continue to dedicate his life in prayer.
In 1284, Pope Coelestin V resigned after only sixth months. Like Pope Benedict, the 84-year-old Pope Coelestin V said that due to his age, he did not feel like he had the strength anymore to continue his work as the leader of the Catholic community. After his retirement, Pope Coelestin V lived his life alone in prayer.
In 1415, Pope Gregor XII also abdicated his position; or was abdicated to be precise. In 1415, the Catholic church had three popes at the same time. Along with Pope Felix V, both popes were taken out of office in order to prevent a split in the Catholic Church. Historically, Pope Felix V was considered an anti-pope.
In regard to Pope Benedict’s plans, the Sueddeutsche reports that Pope Benedict intends to stay at first at the Pope’s palace in Castel Gandolfo and then retire later on in the Karmel monastery inside the Vatican where Pope Benedict will have separate living quarters.
Pope Benedict does not desire to participate in the election of a new successor and due to the age limit in the voting process for a new pope, Pope Benedict would not qualify to vote. Pope Benedict’s title after his retirement will be Emeritus; “Papa Emeritus” Germans would call him.
Pope Benedict was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany, with the name Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger. Pope Benedict’s citizenship is German and Vatican. Throughout Germany, Joseph Ratzinger had a distinguished career as a university theologian before being appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI (1963–78). Besides German, Pope Benedict speaks French, Italian, Latin, Spanish, some Portuguese and he can read Ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew.
Having two citizenships and being truly an international and historical retiree, it is still unknown as to what kind of retirement provisions “Papa Emeritus” will receive. Knowing Pope Benedict though, it is not one of his major concerns.
Below is the official and emotional announcement by Pope Benedict XVI as published by Vatican Radio on Feb. 10, 2013.
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 barque 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"
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