Here's the story from the New York Times. Well, that's certainly a bit of information for a Monday morning. According to this report from Bloomberg.com, the Pope is resigning due to health reasons. His resignation will be effective Feb. 28, after which a conclave of the cardinals of the Catholic Church will meet to elect the next pope. The pope's resignation statement addressed to the cardinals present in Rome may be found here, and reads as follows:
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. 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.This is the first papal resignation in roughly 600 years. The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
- Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has some explanation about what happens next over at his blog What Does The Prayer Really Say?: Some notes about the upcoming conclave. If you are so inclined, you might want to spare a prayer for the cardinals of the Church, that they will have the wisdom and guidance to select the next Pope.
- The Anchoress has posted reflections on the Pope's resignation, and has provided a roundup of links to reactions across the web. Worth looking at to get an idea of what Catholic bloggers are saying about today's news.
- Samuel Gregg has a reflection posted over at The Corner on Benedict XVI's legacy: Reason's Revolutionary. As Gregg notes, Benedict's primary intellectual project has been the restoration of the place of reason in human affairs.
- Stephen Bainbridge notes the importance of Benedict XVI's resignation as a break with long-standing custom, and states that it may count as "the bravest thing he's done in office." Bainbridge also points out some of the vicious anti-Catholicism on display on the left-side of the blogosphere.
- Taylor Marshall notes that Benedict XVI has likely been contemplating resigning his office for some time, and provides some evidence to support this contention: Pope Benedict's Devotion to Saint Celestine Signaled His Resignation From the Papacy.
- Ross Douthat has some thoughts on Benedict XVI's resignation, posted over at his blog at the New York Times online: The Pope Abdicates. Douthat looks at both the short-term and long-term consequences of the Pope's decision, and has some insightful comments on the Church's resilience.
- Pat Buchanan comments on Benedict XVI's papacy and resignation in this op-ed: A godly man in an ungodly age. Buchanan reflects on the long decline of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular in those places where it has historically been strong.