12 Feb 2013


The surprise announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign his office on February 28th has raised many questions about the laws surrounding the resignation of a Pope. There is no doubt he can do so: Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law states: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”

But the Code does not elaborate. Before now, there was no need. Church law leaves many questions unanswered.
“We lack a law, so far, on the status of a former pope, of someone who resigned the papacy,” said Msgr. David-Maria Jaeger, OFM, a professor of canon law at Rome’s Pontifical University Antonianum. “It is possible either Benedict XVI in the next few days, or his successor, will make such a law, because many questions must be asked: What is the proper title by which to address a former pope? What are his immunities and prerogatives? There is a question of his international standing. All of this has to be settled…There was never any need to deal with it.” It was announced by the Holy See Press Office that Pope Benedict XVI will not participate in the conclave to elect his successor. The ability of a Pope to do so has been debated for generations, but it had always previously been an academic point. In this case, too, there is no law.
“The idea that a former pope would participate in the conclave would be premised on a determination that a pope who resigned returns to being a Cardinal,” explained Msgr. Jaeger. “Far be it for me to express an opinion on this occasion, except to say that it is not obvious!”
The canonist said the Pope’s decision not to participate was “the most discreet and appropriate course,” and said other decisions on the many remaining unclear questions will likely be announced in the coming days.  “We are in uncharted waters, although we can be absolutely confident that Pope Benedict XVI will know how to chart them for us,” Msgr. Jaeger said. “And, of course, for himself.”

11 Feb 2013


POPE BENEDICT XVI announced on Monday February 11, 2013 that he will resign at the end of February because he no longer has the strength to effectively continue with the duties of his office, news services reported.
He is to become the first head of the Catholic Church to resign since after Pope Gregory XII who resigned in 1415 to end the Western Schism, after 9 years in office. BENEDICT XVI will be 86 years on April 16, 2013. He is retiring at the age of 85 after having been elected in April 2005 to succeed Pope John Paul II. He was the oldest man named to the papacy in almost 300 years. The Vatican said his departure would leave the post temporarily vacant.
Part of his resignation message reads:
 "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."
Pope Benedict XVI, a German, was born as Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger. He is the 265th Pope and head of the Catholic Church. Rumors that the Holy Father would resign his office had been common in the early years of his pontificate.
Catholic cardinals will now convene in Rome in order to choose a new pope.