|Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of this month.|
Today, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation as of February 28, 2013.
More than 1 billion people worldwide are members of the Catholic Church led by Pope Benedict. Traditionally, the Pope remains seated until death.
To say that this is unusual is an understatement. The last time a sitting or resign was in 1415, 598 years ago.
Additionally, Pope Benedict will have served less than eight years, an unusually short time for a Pope historically.
Pope Benedict has been embroiled in controversy. Early in his career he wrote many essays and articles considered liberal, then his writings took a sudden shift to the conservative.
The Pope remained steadfastly against homosexuality, women serving in the pulpit, and stem cell research.
The Pope also spoke adamantly that the Catholic Church was the truest religion and that other Christians were less adequate morally and considered Islam an enemy of Catholicism.
Additionally, the Pontiff came under fire when letters he wrote as a cardinal in Germany resurfaced, suggesting that covering up sexual misconduct by priests was in the best interest of the Church.
In his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI cited age and waning strength. However, I'm sure skepticism will abound, perhaps rightly so.
It will be interesting, especially considering the Pope will still be alive, to see if the Cardinals choose a less conservative successor.
Below is the official Vatican translation of what the Pope said today regarding his resignation.
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 XVIWhile the Catholic Church in general, and this Pope specifically, evoke strong feelings, I ask that readers limit comments to well thought out praise or criticism. I ask this out of respect for the office more-so than for the man. With that said, please share your thoughts below.
Sources: New York Times, ABC News, The Vatican
Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis, October 2010, used via Creative Commons License.