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Benedict is teaching future popes how to act after resigning

2017-02-11

On February 11, 2013, at 11:45 in the morning, these calmly spoken words by Benedict XVI caused an earthquake in the Catholic Church. 

BENEDICT XVI
"Due to an advanced age, I am no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."

After that statement, he quietly left his meeting with the cardinals, as if nothing had happened. Two days later, he publicly confirmed his resignation during a general audience. 

BENEDICT XVI
February 13, 2013
"Dear brothers and sisters, as you know I have decided… Thank you for your sympathy. I have decided to resign ... the ministry that the Lord entrusted to me on April 19, 2005. I've done so with complete freedom for the good of the Church. I came to this conclusion, after praying for quite some time and examining my conscience before God. I'm well aware of the seriousness of this act, but also acknowledge that I am not prepared to carry out the Petrine ministry with strength it requires. Thank you. In these difficult days, I've felt almost physically, the power of prayer that comes through the love for the Church and your prayers. Continue to pray for me, for the Church and for the future Pope. The Lord will guide him.”

Benedict was 85 years old, and became the first pontiff to resign while fully exercising all papal functions. His last act as pope was a meeting with cardinals, where he left a message for his successor.

BENEDICT XVI
"Among you, in the College of Cardinals is the future Pope, to whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience”.

The pope's resignation took effect on February 28, at 8:00 p.m. Rome time. The signal was the withdrawal of the Swiss Guard, which then were at the disposal of the cardinals.

Since then, he has only had one speech in public. This one, when celebrated 65 years as a priest, in which he dedicated these words to Pope Francis.

BENEDICT XVI
June 28, 2016
"Your kindness, from the first moment of the election, in every moment of my life here, strikes me, is a source of real inspiration for me. More than in the Vatican Gardens, with their beauty, your goodness is the place where I dwell: I feel protected”.

Pope Emeritus Benedict leads a quiet life, far from the public eye, and close to Pope Francis. He lives here, in the Monastery "Mater Ecclesiae". He has only left once, to visit Castel Gandolfo, during a papal journey outside Rome. 

He knows that he is teaching future popes how a pontiff should act when he steps down, and he does so by supporting his successor with discretion, serenity, and prayer.


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