The Pope has resigned. Benedict XVI astonished cardinals in the Vatican with the surprise announcement, in Latin, that he does not feel strong enough to continue to head the Roman Catholic Church.
He said he would step down on the last day of this month.
Benedict’s papacy has been marked by controversy and scandal – most notably he upset Muslims with a lecture and persistent revelations of child sex abuse by Catholic priests.
The last time a pope quit office was six centuries ago in the middle ages.
Writer John Thavis, who has been covering the goings-on there for 30 years said: “I think it does leave the church with a lot of questions. The church has not really had a situation of two popes in many centuries. Obviously it won’t really be two popes, one will have resigned, but it is going to be hard for people to forget that Pope Benedict is still alive and he is still perhaps writing, still perhaps expressing himself.”
Already the bookies are taking bets on who will be the next pope. Ghana’s Peter Turkson is one of two Africans topping the list of odds-on favourites.
Another frontrunner is Canadian Marc Ouellet, but there are also names from Latin America being mentioned. This raises the prospect that the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will not be from Europe for the first time ever.
Vatican sources said that as the Pope has not died there is obviously no need for the traditional nine days of mourning, but there will be a Conclave to select a new pope before the end of March..
The 85-year-old said he took the decision due to old age. In a statement delivered to the Vatican he 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 of the Petrine ministry.”
“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.”
No specific illness
The Vatican’s spokesman said Pope Benedict has no specific illness and his decision to resign was taken with no outside pressure.
Father Federico Lombardi explained that the Pope’s decision was not due to an illness but to a progressive decline in his strength which was normal in a man of his age.
“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 taken with full freedom, which deserves maximum respect,” he added.
Lombardi said the Pope had not decided to resign because of “difficulties in the papacy” and the move had been a surprise, indicating that even his inner circle was unaware that he was about to quit. The Pope does not fear schism in the Church after his resignation, the spokesman said.
Elected on April 19 2005 at the age of 78, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest men to take on the position in the history of the Catholic church.
He has had to oversee some of the most turbulent times for the Catholic Church in recent years, as a scandal was breaking about child sex abuse by priests.
He has also been at the centre of the so called “Vatileaks” scandal over the leaking of his private papers by his personal butler.
Pope Benedict has proved to be a divisive figure. While conservatives cheered him for getting back to traditional Catholic values, his critics accused him of turning back the clock on reforms by nearly half a century and damaging dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she fully respected German-born Pope Benedict’s decision to resign because of his frailty.
“If the Pope himself, after thorough reflection, has come to the conclusion that he doesn’t have the strength anymore to carry out his duties, then this has my utmost respect,” Merkel said in a brief statement at the Chancellery in Berlin. “He had to make a difficult decision.”
‘A heavy heart’
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual head of the global 80-million-strong Anglican Communion, said: “It was with a heavy heart but complete understanding that we learned this morning of Pope Benedict’s declaration of his decision to lay down the burden of ministry as Bishop of Rome, an office which he has held with great dignity, insight and courage.”
Welby said he gave thanks to God for Benedict’s life “utterly dedicated, in word and deed, in prayer and in costly service, to following Christ.”
To hear the Pope’s statement – in Latin – click on the link below
Source: Radio Vatican
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1Islamists seize border post between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
- 2Ukraine: renewed violence dents Minsk Summit hopes
- 3Sick of the ice bucket challenge? Here are five worthy alternatives
- 4Ukraine: Pessimism remains following Minsk summit
- 5Official ‘executed by flame-thrower’ over links to Kim Jong-un’s purged uncle
- 1#ن: How an Arabic letter was reclaimed to support Iraq’s persecuted Christians | euronews, world news
- 2Ellen MacArthur: making waves on a journey to a circular economy | euronews, the global conversation
- 3China executes eight Muslims convicted of terrorism | euronews, world news
- 4Putin T-Shirts flying off the shelves at Moscow megastore | euronews, world news
- 5Everything you need to know about the Ebola virus | euronews, world news
- 6Ukraine accuses Russian aid convoy of stealing factory equipment | euronews, world news
- 7Massive Swedish forest fire is declared a national emergency | euronews, world news
- 8Risk of fresh ash cloud threatens European air travel | euronews, world news
- 9Iceland warns Europe’s airlines of possible volcanic eruption | euronews, world news
- 10Beyond the subconscious | euronews, futuris
- 11Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland continues to rumble | euronews, world news
- 12Poland wants compensation from the EU for Russian import ban | euronews, world news
- 13Man, 27, fails in suicide bid after tigers reject chance to eat him | euronews, world news
- 14EU’s Russia sanctions doing more harm than good says Hungary’s PM Orban | euronews, world news
- 15Romania buys into bitcoin big time | euronews, corporate
- 16Portugal hopes to become a pensioner’s paradise with zero tax offer | euronews, reporter
- 17A robot that grows | euronews, futuris
- 18Malta opera star Joseph Calleja’s summer concert draws big crowd | euronews, le mag
- 19Turkey’s women have the last laugh | euronews, world news
- 20Greek farmers suffer in economic war between Russia and EU | euronews, economy
Wires > News
- 03:08 CET China urges Japan to break from aggressive past after Abe honours…
- 02:08 CET U.S. seeks coalition against Islamic State, but military partners…
- 00:09 CET U.S. moves prisoners from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen
- 23:16 CET India’s Modi eyes breakthrough nuclear pact on Japan trip
- 23:14 CET Lebanese army shells militant positions in Syria border zone
- 23:07 CET Shambolic election campaign leaves Indonesia’s president-elect…
- 19:59 CET Libya warns United Nations of possible slide into civil war
- 19:39 CET Cameroon says kills 27 Boko Haram militants in border clashes