Wrote His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI:
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 XVI
Well. I'm stunned.
I think it goes without saying that it is highly unusual for a pope to resign due to health concerns. It's especially baffling after having witnessed the final years of Pope John Paul II. Popes resign for political reasons. The last such resignation took place just shy of 600 years ago. And that was to reunify a divided Church.
The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415. He did so to end a civil war within the church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.
There's only been a handful of resignations and most are shrouded in the mystery of time. Here's a rundown. I can't help noticing that one of them was Pope Benedict IX who was paid to resign in the wake of an outrageously scandalous reign.
So, is anybody buying this? Call me cynical, but I'm just not. In fairness, he did apparently foreshadow the possibility in 2010. He seems relatively spry to me, and appears to still have all his buttons, but who knows. Could be things we just don't know, as yet. Obviously the other stock excuse for political resignation -- wanting to spend more time with the family -- wasn't gonna fly.
While I eagerly await more details to dribble out of the increasingly porous Vatican, I can't help thinking about where this puts us in terms of prophecies that have already demonstrated themselves to be tantalizingly accurate. Pope Benedict, himself, ominously alluded to the Fatima prophecy, when he linked the suffering of the Church with its own self-inflicted wounds -- the mishandling of the sex abuse crisis -- and called for penitence.
According to the prevailing interpretation of St. Malachy's Prophecy, this is the second to last pope, so his premature departure is even more shocking. What strikes me this morning, looking at the timeline, is the freestanding line between the second to the last and the last pope.
In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit.
That's a little on the nose.
And then, under Peter the Roman, who will be the next pope under this interpretation, Rome, the city of seven hills, is destroyed in the final judgment -- some say of the Church, some say of the world.
Just a reminder, the word apocalypse means, revealing what is hidden.