lizavery asked you:
I didnt know the pope could resign! How does that work?
Thank you for asking! Really, thank you Liz. You don’t know how much I appreciate it.
It actually hasn’t happened since 1415 with Gregory XII, nearly 600 years ago, so it’s quite a shock to everyone. Its basically become accepted that the pope stays in office until he dies, but it is in Canon Law of the Church that the pope can resign: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.” Pope Benedict XVI himself said in an interview a pope should resign if he realizes that he is “no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.” I believe he will be henceforth known as Bishop emeritus of Rome.
Benedict XVI has made two trips to St. Celestine V in the past years. In April 2009, the pope visited his tomb and left his pallium (the scarf-like vestment he wears as a symbol of his papacy) on the tomb. In July 2010 he visited another site where relics of St. Celestine V are kept. St. Celestine V was a pope who also left the papacy. He did not want to become the pope, as is the case with Pope Benedict XVI. Both were elected just before their 80th birthdays, which is when you are too old to become a pope. Pope Benedict XVI even wanted to retire when he was a Cardinal, before Blessed John Paul II died.
Another thing, as a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger was close to Pope John Paul II, and saw first hand how the papal seat was affected by the Pope’s declining health. Pope Benedict XVI is making a very courageous move in saying, I am unfit to continue. He is opening the way for someone stronger to lead God’s Church. He is caring for the 1.2 million Catholics entrusted to his care as the shepherd of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I’m not saying Pope John Paul II didn’t care for his flock. As Sr Mary Theresa said today, “Pope John Paul II remained in office so that he might show us how to suffer and how to die. Pope Benedict XVI is leaving the papal office so that he might show us how to live in humble honesty.”
I’ll be praying for your health Papa Bene, may God bless you and keep you. We will not let your teachings and writings die with the end of your papacy.
Viva il Papa!