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Pope Stepping Down

Outgoing Pope Benedict XVI Makes History By Deciding to Leave Early

By Matt Rooney The Save Jersey Blog

Pope Benedict XVI

We haven’t seen this in 600 years, Save Jerseyans.

As many New Jerseyans prepare for Lent (which begins this Wednesday) in the 4th most Catholic state in the Union, Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will step down from his office effective February 28th.

Here’s the full text of Benedict’s statement released through the Vatican earlier this morning:

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. [Contd...]

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.”

Today’s news is a “shock” only because it’s rare.

There’s been talk of the controversial pope leaving early almost as soon as he was first elected to the papacy in April 2005 as John Paul II’s successor. Most recently, according to the AP, the Pope’s doctor told him to avoid transatlantic flights. That may’ve been passable in 1415 when the Pope was a Renaissance monarch, Save Jerseyans, but it won’t work in the digital, post-John Paul II era when popes are expected to globe trot like Bono.

An energetic pope might be able to tackle some of the Church’s more pressing problems, including but definitely not limited to steeply declining membership in parts of the “developed” world, human rights abuses in the developing world and a sex abuse scandal that gets worse with every new revelation. I frankly don’t think Benedict always did a great job of it, and on some key economic issues, I strongly believe his views are a recipe for more of the poverty. Good intentions are worth what they cost… absolutely nothing, folks. 

All the same, here’s hoping the Pope enjoys a peaceful retirement, and that the next Vicar of Christ is well-equipped to lead the Church into the 21st Century without abandoning its core principles. It’s worth a prayer on Ash Wednesday no matter where or how you prays, folks. The fate of the world’s largest single religious denomination effects us all. And if you believe the pundits who follow such things, unlike in 2005, there’s no clear frontrunner…

A closing note: my favorite moment from the Pope’s 2008 visit to the United States. Nothing quite like a Pope and President standing side-by-side as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is played by a marine band…

4 comments on “Pope Stepping Down

  1. Kelly Ann Hart via F says:

    wow

  2. Amanda Richardson vi says:

    Yes. Very courageous

  3. Amanda Richardson vi says:

    I believe someone of Hispanic descent will be next….

  4. [...] Cory Booker is about to have the best Valentine’s Day of his life, Save Jerseyans, because his recent arch-rival is borrowing a page from Pope Benedict XVI’s book. [...]

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