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Vatican analyst Angela Ambrogetti has published many articles about the Holy See and the various popes. Euronews asked for her assessment of Benedict XVI’s resignation.

Angela Ambrogetti, Vatican analyst:
“The news naturally surprised everybody, even if there were recognisable signs in recent months about the pope’s arrangements for an end to his mandate. But everybody thought it was an old pontiff preparing to stand down one day due to poor health. Instead, Benedict proved himself to be much more modern than we expected and surprised us all with this resignation.”

Manuela Scarpellini, euronews:
“But is it the resignation that is surprising, or the timing of his announcement?”

Angela Ambrogetti:
“It’s the resignation certainly, because if we think the last pontiff who resigned was Celestine V and we’re talking about hundreds of years ago, it’s clear that this is surprising. The timing less so, in the sense that certainly Benedict XVI is (nearly) 86, he’s an old man, he’s a person who feels he’s no longer able to perform the role to his best, to be a guide for the Universal Church and so he decided to resign, according to canon law.”

Manuela Scarpellini, euronews:
“The Pope referred to physical and also spiritual problems. But everybody wants to know if that is the real reason or if there are other and deeper reasons.”

Angela Ambrogetti:
“He had already said: I would never leave the Church at a difficult time, but if I felt unable to be a guide for the Church, I would resign. So his position was very clear. Right now he doesn’t feel able to go on anymore for physical reasons. For some years we have seen him using a special platform to move around inside St Peter’s and elsewhere. For more spiritual and physical reasons, it’s clear that age caused some problems for the pope’s otherwise clear-headed and enlightened mind.”

Manuela Scarpellini, euronews:
“What impact have the Church’s scandals had on this decision – for example, over paedophiles and the leaking of secret papers?”

Angela Ambrogetti:
“I think, none. On the contrary, the pope wanted to resolve these problems. On sexual abuse, for example, at the moment Episcopal Conferences all over the world are studying guidelines to solve this problem. The same goes for Vatileaks. We even have people thinking the pope wanted to resign some time ago and he wanted to wrap up this Vatileaks affair, to put things in order before he resigned.”

Manuela Scarpellini, euronews:
“Who in your opinion, could the next pope be after Benedict XVI and why?”

Angela Ambrogetti:
“Probably another European, but all this is new, even for analysts who’ve been used to following the Vatican for 25 years, like me. Everything is unexpected, new and original, and we need to look more carefully at the facts rather than speculating, and see what will happen between now and February 28 and then in early March.”

Copyright © 2016 euronews

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