Surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI first appearance as a Pope, 19 April 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI’s first appearance as a Pope, 19 April 2005.

While I was checking the news feed of my Facebook account, less than a hour ago, I saw the shocking news of the resignation of Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Rome or more known as the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest single Christian denomination on Earth. When I saw the news of Benedict XVI on my Facebook news feed, I did not believe the news and I had to verify through Google and I found out that he has resigned from the papacy which will to be effective on 28 February 2013.

His resignation was surprising as the Pope never hinted an intention to resign from the papacy although there were speculations way back 2010 that he would resign which he did today. On his resignation letter, he stated that his strength could not cope up with the burdens of governing the 1 billion Catholics due to his advancing age and declining health. Probably, he had a reason on why he stood down the papacy as the Catholic Church leadership needs youth to cope up the challenges facing the church of this 21st century like increasing number of clergy people being involved in sexual molestation, and the hardline stand regarding population and AIDS/HIV control that the Pope has been inheriting since his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

His resignation was surprising too as he is one of the most conservative leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in recent generation and Catholics and non-Catholics were expecting that he would lead the Catholic Church for life amidst of the rapid social, economic, and political developments of the 21st century.

For me, his sudden resignation will have a long-term repercussions of the Catholic Church. First, the next Pope will be lesser conservative than him. Second, the next Pope will have to address the pressing concerns I’ve mentioned above.  Third, the next Pope will have to address the Catholic doctrines in order achieve reconciliation with the conservative factions of the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. Fourth and the last will be addressing the long-time differences with the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Here’s the resignation letter of Pope Benedict XVI:

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