February 11, 2013
From Bishop Martin Amos, Bishop of Davenport –
By now many of you have heard the news of the Holy Father’s plans to abdicate from the papal office at the end of February. The news was a surprise to many people since it occurs so infrequently. The last pontiff to abdicate was Gregory XII in 1415, almost 600 years ago.
For nearly eight years, Pope Benedict has led the Catholic Church during difficult times in our world with a deep spirituality and care for all of God’s people, especially those in most need. While Pope John Paul II chose to stay in office in order to give strength and dignity to people in the final stages of life, Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to allow a new pontiff to meet the strenuous demands of leading the Church.
I met the Holy Father last spring during my regular visit to the Vatican. I found him to be a warm and caring leader with a keen intellect who is concerned with what was happening in our diocese. Both Msgr. John Hyland, VG and I also thought he looked very tired from his very extensive and demanding schedule. I have included the Holy Father’s announcement below. In it he states, “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 ask that you keep His Holiness in your prayers as he moves to a new stage in his life, for the cardinals who will soon gather in conclave to elect a new pope and for the people of the Church during this period of transition to a new successor to the Chair of Peter.
Full text of Pope’s declaration
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