Pope Benedict XVI to Resign: ‘His Age is Weighing on Him’

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Credit: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Credit: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) – Pope Benedict XVI is resigning, citing deteriorating strength due to advancing age as the reason.

The Vatican confirms the pope will step down on Feb. 28.

“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,” a statement from Benedict XVI reads.

Benedict XVI, 85, was elected as the 265th Pope in April 2005.

Georg Ratzinger, the pope’s 89-year-old brother, told a German news agency that the pope has had difficulty walking recently and has considered stepping down for months.

“His age is weighing on him,” Ratzinger said. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

The Vatican will hold a conclave to elect a new pope in March. Some feel Benedict XVI’s successor will bring about a big change at the top of the Catholic church.

“We might see an Asian pope, we might see an African pope, we might see a South American pope, because the church is really growing strong in those areas,” father Aaron Kuhn says.

Kuhn, who is from Minnesota, was visiting the National Basilica when news of the forthcoming resignation broke.

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington says the next pope will need “a certain level of energy” to travel around the world and be physically present to tend to the faithful.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl said at a news conference Monday that he was shocked by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign. But he said it was a sign of the pope’s humility and love for the church that he concluded he was no longer able to perform his duties.

Wuerl declined to speculate on whether the cardinals might choose a younger or non-European pope, but he said age would be considered. He says the church needs a pope “whose physical energy would allow him to travel.”

He says Benedict appeared physically and mentally fit when he last saw him.

Members of the nation’s oldest Catholic diocese — the Archdiocese of Baltimore — say they sympathize with Pope Benedict’s decision to step down.

The Rev. Jeffrey Dauses of St. Andrew by the Bay in Annapolis said Monday that the 85-year-old pope lacks the stamina for his demanding job. The Rev. Collin Poston of St. Mary Catholic Church in Hagerstown says he hopes the next pope builds on Benedict’s use of technology to reach young people.

Bill Collins of Williamsport says Benedict was more passive than John Paul. He says it’s time for Benedict to retire.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said Monday he had met with the pope six weeks ago. Lori said Benedict expressed affection for the archdiocese.

Some Washington area residents are more skeptical of the pope’s reasoning for stepping down, believing turmoil surrounding the church is the true motive.

“I think he probably stepped down because he’s felt the Catholic church has lost political influence in the world,” a resident told WNEW. “With all of these situations… the child molesting, the womanizing, and then the deepening problems in the middle East. I think he’s just felt that the Catholic church has become irrelevant.”

A pontiff last resigned nearly 600 years ago when Pope Gregory XII stepped down in 1415.

Pope’s Statement
via: Vatican Radio

Dear Brothers,

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 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 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

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

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