An announcement by Benedictus XVI that come February 28 2013 20:00 hours, he will no longer lead the Church, has sent global shockwaves that has upset not only the Catholic faithful, but the world at large, although there is nothing stopping him from stepping aside.
Being the first papal resignation in 600 years, it is no surprise that in different forums diverse governments, Church leaders and Vatican-watchers are loss of words by his decision, which Vatican spokesperson notes is an indication of “great courage” and “determination”.
Under Canon Law, the only conditions for the validity of such a resignation are that it be made freely and be properly published.
Commenting on the German Pontiff surprise resignation, a moved and touched German spokesperson said: “The German has the highest respect for the Holy Father, for what he has done, for his contributions over the course of his life to the Catholic Church.
“He has left a very personal signature as a thinker at the Head of the Church, and also as a Shepherd.”
A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, disclosed that even the Pope’s closest aides did not know what he was planning to do and were left “incredulous”.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is quoted as saying he was “greatly shaken by this unexpected news”.
However, the Pope’s brother has quickly clarified that basing on doctors advise that the Pontiff should not take any more transatlantic trips, he had been considering stepping down for months.
Georg Ratzinger said his brother was having increasing difficulty walking and that his stepping down was part of a “natural process”, adding; “His age is weighing on him and at this age my brother wants more rest.”
And the Episcopal Conference of Malawi secretary Fr. George Buleya told a local radio in the country that the Catholic and their leadership in Malawi were equally taken by surprise with the development but that the Canon Law has to be respected.
With only three days before the commencement of the revered Lent period in the Catholic and Anglican family, the two week resignation notice means that the Catholic Church, which commands over one billion followers, will journey through this fasting wilderness without a Pontiff, indications having been put that a new Head of the Church will be known around Easter.
According to the notice by the outgoing Pope that NewstimeAfrica has sourced through the Vatican Radio, synonymous of Epistles written by Apostle Paul, Pope Benedict opens with a “Dear Brothers” salutation, before writing: “I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.”
Although many feel that at 85, the Pontiff is not too old to continue with the Cloak, the holder feels otherwise, as he reasons: “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.”
And he advances his reasoning: “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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
Having served in this capacity for nearly eight years, the Pope thinks it is high time he surrendered the Pontiff and sadly seem to declare: “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.”
Dated February 10 2013 in Vatican, 7th Sunday before Easter (Quinquagesima), but posted the following day, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who became Pope after the death of John Paul II values the support rendered by different people during his ministry and leadership, and appreciatively winds up saying: “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.”
The Catholic hierarchy puts the Pope at the helm and includes Cardinals, Patriarchs and Diocesan Bishops. And according to Wikipedia it teaches that it is the one true Church divinely founded by Jesus Christ and that its Bishops are the successors of Christ’s Apostles, and that the Pope is the sole successor to Saint Peter who has Apostolic Primacy.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger appears to be one of the oldest new Popes in history when elected, and information further raked by NewstimeAfrica reveal that as he spent 24 years in charge of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, once known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
Popes are chosen by the College of Cardinals which is the Supreme Electoral body of the Catholic Church, appointed by the Pope, usually ordained bishops, and the Dean of the College, the 85 year-old Italian Angelo Sodano, would be responsible for the convoking of a Papal Election or Conclave, it has been established.
Known as “red hats” due to the scarlet colour of their vestments, there are currently 203 Cardinals from 69 countries.
In 2007 Vatican records listed 408,024 Catholic priests in the world.
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