Papal resignation

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From Light of the World, Benedict XVI’s 2010 interview with Peter Seewald
Q: Have you thought of resigning?
A: When the danger is great one must not run away. For that reason, now [2010] is certainly not the time to resign. Precisely at a time like this one must stand fast and endure the difficult situation. That is my view. One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from the danger and say that someone else should do it.
Q: Is it possible then to imagine a situation in which you consider a resignation by the Pope appropriate?
A: Yes. If a Pope clearly recognizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has the right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.
Benedict XVI, from the Vatican, February 10, 2013
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 barque of St. 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 St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on April 19, 2005, in such a way, that as from Feb. 28, 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. 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.
Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ. "Pope Emeritus 101."
Pope Benedict XVI has given his resignation freely, in accordance with Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law.
Pope Benedict XVI will not take part in the Conclave for the election of his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI will move to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo when his resignation shall become effective.
When renovation work on the monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is complete, the Holy Father will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., a canon lawyer.
At 8:00 PM Rome time on February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI will have a new identity to which we will have to become accustomed: His Holiness, Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, former Roman/Supreme Pontiff, Bishop Emeritus of Rome.

History

230–235 St. Pontian Eighteenth pope. Resigned when exiled to Sardinia.
296–304 (?) Marcellinus May have apostacized under persecution. Venerated as a martyr in later centuries. No clear record of a resignation or deposition.
352–366 Liberius No direct record of a resignation. Indirect arguments offered. Felix II was elected bishop of Rome while Liberius was in exile due to Arian persecutions. However, Liberius returned to Rome, unseated Felix, and acted with vigor to undo concessions to the Arains that he (Liberius) had made while in exile.
649-655 St. Martin I "Martin I was abducted by Emperor Constans II and died in the Crimean peninsula. He is considered a martyr by the Catholic Church."[1] "The one clear but odd case is that of St. Martin I (649–655), the last of the martyr popes. St. Martin refused to accept the Byzantine emperor’s Monothelite heresy, and so was sent into exile as a slave laborer. After several years, the Romans elected Eugenius I pope. Sometime later Martin wrote a letter in which he makes reference to Eugenius approvingly. The details are unclear, but it does not seem to be the case that Martin resigned in any sort of formal manner. Rather, he seems to have retroactively acknowledged Eugenius. There is not enough clear evidence to make strong conclusions about this period."[2]
1009 John XVIII Recorded as having died as a monk at St. Paul's-outside-the-walls. This suggests either that he resigned or that he was forced out of office. There seem to be no direct accounts to clarify the matter.
1045 Benedict IX Dissolute. Made pope three times, beginning at age 17. Sold the papacy to his uncle, who was also his godfather. One of the worst of the bad popes.
1046 Gregory VI Bribed Benedict IX to leave papacy. Persuaded to resign by a synod because of the suspicion of simony involved in bribing his nephew to resign the papacy.
1294 St. Celestine V Monk, hermit, founder of the Celestines. Resigned after five months. Imprisoned by his successor; died ten months later.
1406–1415 Gregory XII Forced to resign by the Council of Constance, which also set aside all other claimants to the papacy, preparing the way for the election of Pope Martin V and ending the "Western Schism" (1378-1418).
2013 Benedict XVI Resigned of his own free will due to decline in vigor.

Canon Law

canon 332 §2 of the Code

Q & A

Has there ever been a black Pope?

African, yes. Probably not "black." Three popes from North Africa:

  • St. Victor I (189-199)
  • St. Melchiades (311-314)
  • St. Gelasius (492-496)

Comments

"I Want My Pope Back."
Yes, the Holy Spirit protects the Church from error. However, the Holy Spirit does not protect the Church from disaster. If the last 50 years has taught us anything, it has taught us that. So yes, I worry.

References

  1. St. Martin I.
  2. Andrew Jones, "Pope Benedict XVI and the History of Papal Resignations—Part I."

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