EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Pope’s Surprise Resignation

  • February 11th, 2013
  • Posted by EUEditor

pope-croatia-reduced.jpgPope Benedict XVI has announced he will resign as pontiff at the end of this month, saying that at 85 he lacked the strength to continue.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from Germany, he had established a reputation as a conservative theologian, though hardly thought of as reactionary.

At 78 he succeeded Pope John Paul II after his death in 2005.

In a statement early on Monday, 11.2.13, he said that because of his advanced age, his mental and physical stamina were failing.

Officials close to him said that although he had raised the idea of resigning, in the past, they had not known it was coming and were feeling incredulous.

A Pope would normally die in office; until now, none had resigned since 1415.

Pope Benedict conducted a ministry among young people, meeting many of them. His papacy also came under intense pressure over the abuse of children by clergy, and in religious institutions, and protection of offenders from the law – which he said left him “deeply ashamed” on the part of the church. (See EUAustralia Online, “Pope atones on British tour”, 19.9.10).

Warm tributes began immediately after the announcement in Rome.

Chancellor Angela Markel called him “one of the significant religious thinkers of our time”, and the Chief Rabbi in Israel said that he had been able to reach out to other faiths.

The resignation was announced just before the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar, and during the carnival season –karneval– in Germany. (See EUAustralia Online, “Europe, Euros and Europeans: more carnival than ever?”, 22.2.07).

Pope Benedict is expected to retire to a monastery, though likely to first attend a college of 117 Cardinals, which will choose his successor.

Though not eligible to vote, being over 80, he would be influential in the naming of the next leader of the Catholic Church, which has some 1.2-billion adherents.

The colleage has an Australian member, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney.

See also EUAustralia Online: “Vatican: Saints and Villains”, 20.2.10.