News Flash: Non habemus papam—Pope Benedict resigns because of infirmity.

This is not a joke: according to the Guardian and other sources like the BBC, Ratzi—Pope Benedict XVI—is to step down on February 28. That’s 17 days from now. He is 85 years old.

Here’s the full text of the pope’s statement from Vatican Radio.

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, 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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil 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


This is the first time any pope has resigned since 1415 (Pope Gregory XII).

This happened only half an hour ago and I have no more news, but the Guardian is continually updating coverage on its website.

Now what happens to a retired pope?

h/t: Martin


  1. Kevin
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Sadly late to the party.

    I heard this news on NPR, and my only thought was “I hope whatever you have is slowly debilitating and extremely painful. A week or more of unrelenting suffering for you for every tear shed by a child at the hands of one of the monsters you call a ‘priest’.”

  2. Dave
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Actually, given who they say they are, their supposed lineage, etc, it would be more fitting if all popes were crucified. Especially this one.

  3. still learning
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Seen on Twitter: “I did Nazi that coming.”

  4. Dawn Oz
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    On a lighter note.

    Benedict – ‘guess what I’m giving up for lent!’

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Ha Ha Ha!

  5. Steve In Oakland
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    It is a little weird for a Pope to give two weeks notice.

  6. Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    So Ratti is getting a divorce from God! I thought they were supposed to die in the saddle or get murdered?

    • gbjames
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:34 am | Permalink

      There’s still time to get murdered.

  7. anthony44
    Posted February 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s worth mentioning that Benedict XVI was much more than the head of the Catholic Church. He was also an intellectual with an extensive knowledge of a variety of subjects whose thoughtful remarks often made us think about the world’s most daunting problems. What I loved about him was his keen interest in the protection of the environment. He spoke openly about the threats such as global warming and other challenges we’ll have to face in the years to come. In my native Vancouver there’s now a project called Greenest City 2020 Action Plan whose aim is to eliminate the negative impact that our actions often have on the environment and it seems to me that those in power are reluctant to speak about these problems or support the activities carried out by various environmental movements. And I have to say Pope Benedict was never afraid to raise his voice to warn against the possible disastrous consequences in this particular area. I think he should be a source of inspiration for a number of leaders and that’s why he will definitely be missed by many here in Canada.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 17, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      I think most of us are quite aware that Beni was “more than the head of the Catholic Church”. We are aware of his role for decades in the coverup and protection of pedophile priests. We are aware of his efforts to rehabilitate holocaust right wing extremist cult leaders. We are aware of the devastation of AIDS in Africa and his role in discouraging the use of condoms. We are aware of the attempts by the Church under the direction of Pope Benedict XVI to meddle in the politics, working to deny civil rights to gay people. And we are aware of his role in leading the Church’s efforts to prevent access to contraception and abortion services for women.

      I’m not particularly impressed by Ratzinger. Whatever intellectual gifts he might have possessed, he used them largely in support of a medieval institution that is responsible for untold misery. I will miss him far less than I miss Richard Nixon.

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