Pope Benedict to Step Down!

Some shocking news this morning that Pope benedict XVI is to step down from the Papacy due to ill health. His full statement:

Full text from 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

Apparently there will be a briefing from Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman soon.

This is a brave decision by a Pope who cares deeply about the Church. We were all amazed at his schedule when he visited the UK, that sort of workload is such a heavy burden for anyone to bear, let a lone a man of his age. This has happened before, although the last time was in 1415, so it is not unprecedented, just very unusual. I think it shows us that this is a time when Pope Benedict XVI realises that the Church is in need of a leader with great energy to cope with so much going on, and that it would be in the interests of the Church if he stood aside and allowed the Holy Spirit to choose someone to take over with more energy.

Obviously news like this is unsettling, we have all come to love our German Shepherd very much! But consider that the Church may now have double the leadership, with a new Pope elected and the old one to guide him!

Let's all join together in praying for the Holy Spirit to choose wisely our next leader!

Rabbi Sacks, as always, hits just the right tone:

Commenting on Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said:

"I was honoured to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to Britain on behalf of non-Christian faiths in 2010 and spend time with him during a visit to the Vatican in 2011. I saw him to be a man of gentleness, of quiet and of calm, a deeply thoughtful and compassionate individual who carried with him an aura of grace and wisdom. I wish him good health, blessings and best wishes for the future."

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