Euronews learned more about the Pope’s decision to step down from Father Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Holy See and director of Vatican Radio.
Manuela Scarpellini, euronews: “We’re discussing the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, an historic and almost unprecedented decision that surprised everyone. Do you see the pope’s resignation as a modern, courageous act or as a renunciation of his role?”
Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman: “Certainly we need to talk about his renunciation of the papal ministry, a possibility that was already included in canonic law, so it is not impossible for the Pope to do what he’s done.”
“It was a decision that shows great courage because it hasn’t been done for centuries and shows a great humility and lucidity in the evaluation of his strength, because the clear reason he has done it is because he’s evaluated his declining health and increasing frailty due to his advanced age.
“We mustn’t forget that he’s 85 years old or the level of commitment required by the government of the Catholic Church. I think it’s an exemplary decision and a very lucid one, which I greatly admire.”
euronews: “There are still deep-seated questions internationally – what influence did the scandals about child-abuse, the Vatican bank, and the leaking of the pope’s personal documents have on his decision?”
Father Lombardi: “He took the decision himself, after weighing up his conscience, before God, about his strength and about his capacities. There’s nothing deeper than that. But of course, there were problems, but there are always problems and Benedict is a realist. He knows that history is not easy, and I think the next Pope will continue to encounter major problems. The way forward will never be easy for him. So it’s not a case of one problem or another behind this decision. That’s a wrong assumption which leads to a wrong conclusion.”
euronews: “People are asking – why now?”
Father Lombardi: “You could say, for example, that major trips to Mexico and Cuba that he made last March gave him the opportunity to assess his strength. He coped wonderfully, but afterwards he re-evaluated his ability to deal with commitments like that.”
euronews: “With the crisis in Europe, and political uncertainty – not only in Italy – do you think that this decision could add to the general confusion?”
Father Lombardi: “For those who know the Church and have a proper view of reality of how things advance, this changeover of the Pope is a natural thing that has happened throughout history. It’s not just one person who is needed to guide the Church, but the entire ministry, the service of the successor of St Peter.
euronews: “Why did the Pope, who has more than 2.6 million followers on Twitter, decided to make his historic announcement in Latin?”
Father Lombardi: “The Pope is someone very intelligent, aware of today’s culture and the many problems in the world. He paid close attention to the development of communications and new technology, and new ways of doing things. The announcement which he had to make was a formal statement which carried legal weight, was historic, in front of the College of Cardinals with all the Cardinals in Rome present, and so he did it in a correct and solemn manner.”