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Rome Reports

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Five years since Benedict XVI's resignation


It's now been five years since this statement by Benedict left the world speechless. The day was February 11, 2013, at 11:45 a.m.

BENEDICT XVI
February 11, 2013

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

The announcement in Latin left the cardinals in the Apostolic Palace speechless. 

Two days later, in his first public appearance, Benedict repeated his resignation statement and provided more details. 

BENEDICT XVI
February 11, 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.”

FEDERICO LOMBARDI
President, Ratzinger Foundation

“Benedict prayed and reflected. He carried out a deep, long, thoughtful assessment of his ability to carry out his assumed responsibilities for the government of the Church.

The pope's renunciation took effect on February 28 at 8 p.m. in Rome. It was signaled by the withdrawal of the Swiss Guards, who were once again at the disposal of the cardinals. 

Five years later, what was shocking at the time, has now been accepted. 

FEDERICO LOMBARDI
President, Ratzinger Foundation

“Sometimes I ask myself, 'If he wouldn't have resigned and would've continued his service, what could he do with the strength he has now, five years after the resignation?' He couldn't do almost anything expected of a pope. He can't travel, participate in public ceremonies, hold long meetings or study difficult decisions. It's evident he did the right thing, that he did the most sensible thing for God and for mankind.”

Benedict leads a simple, quiet life in a former monastery within the Vatican Gardens. 

He recently sent this letter to Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, in which the pope emeritus wrote that in light of the “slow decline of physical forces” he's on a “pilgrimage toward Home.”

Benedict's current mission is demonstrating the role of a pope emeritus, a position he created and will surely be continued by successors.