Why did Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI relinquished the Papacy? (My personal opinion)

In my personal opinion, why our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, had decided to step down from his position and relinquish the Papacy, is because of three main factors and events that potentially play major roles in shaping his decision. All of these factors are tied to the first factor, that is his health.

 

Here are the three factors and events that in my opinion made our Pope Emeritus did what he had done :

 

1. Health : The Pope’s failing health due to his old age is likely the main reason why he had decided to relinquish the Papacy. Although indeed, he is now at 85 being much more vigorous as compared to Blessed Pope John Paul II’s last years, but as the Pope has great tasks to be done, for the sake of the Lord, and His people, Pope Benedict chose humility and step aside for someone else to take over the good works he had started.

He realised that his increasing difficulty in walking, most likely due to osteoarthritis and the problems with his vision will eventually impair him and preventing him from exercising his ministry as the Bishop of Rome. It has also been reported that Pope Benedict too suffers from Parkinson’s, although likely a mild one or one that is still at an early stage. This disease is well known for the one that debilitated Blessed Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict, being very close to the previous Pope, would really want to avoid another of many years of debilitation, where the Pope instead of leading directly the Church, had to delegate most of his works due to his disabilities. It is a matter of choice of course. Blessed John Paul II chose to persevere to show us how suffering for the sake of the Lord is like, and our beloved Benedict XVI stepped down to show us what humility and virtue is like.

 

2. WYD (World Youth Day) 2013 : The World Youth Day has been scheduled to occur in July 2013. It would have been in 2014, but because it will be held in Brazil, which will host the World Cup event in 2014, it was decided to hold the World Youth Day a year earlier. As the Pope’s health has made doctors to advise him strongly against transatlantic and difficult journeys, which would have limited him from visiting any countries outside of Europe, or even Italy in the coming years.

In 2012, his visits had been limited to Mexico, Cuba, and Lebanon, with only two major visits as opposed to the usual four or five visits per year, a clear sign that the Pope’s health is increasingly frail to travel far beyond Rome. As the World Youth Day 2013 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it is also possible that our beloved Benedict XVI chose to step aside that a more capable and vigorous new Pope can go instead to the event, that the new Pope can fully lead the event without the disabilities that increasingly had debilitated our beloved Benedict XVI.

 

3. Asia, the Church in Asia : Although Pope Benedict XVI had been known as someone who is particularly very attentive to the problems that the Church is facing in Europe and the West in general, which resulted in his numerous visits to the countries mostly in Europe, but he has also made several visits to countries in Latin America and Africa. Many would have criticised him for leaving out Asia, as although Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel had been visited rather often in his short pontificate, but he had yet to visit South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, where the Church, just as in Africa, had been growing very, very rapidly.

The Pope in fact, loved the Church in Asia, particularly the Church in China, which he had tirelessly worked at, in order that the believers in Christ there can be fully reintegrated into the One Body of the Universal Church, free from any form of external and governmental interventions.

Azerbaijan in Central Asia, was the last country in Central Asia visited by a Pope in 2002. But to truly look into Asia, we should go deeper into South Asia, that is India, and further east. The last time a Pope visited India and South Asia was in 1999 or 14 years ago, and the last time a Pope visited Southeast Asia was in 1995 (World Youth Day 1995, Manila, Philippines) or 18 years ago; and for East Asia, the last Papal visit was to Korea in 1989 or 24 years ago.

Several countries in Asia such as Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, and some other Asian countries had also been graced with Papal visits only once or twice in the entire history of the Church, also owing to the recent expansion of the Church to Asia and that only beginning with Pope Paul VI, that the Pope began to travel again outside Rome and Italy after quite some time. Therefore, due to Pope Benedict XVI’s love for the Church, both in the elder Europe and the younger Church in Asia, and already that his debilitation had made him difficult to make transatlantic visits, including the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil, but a travel plan to Asia would have made it much more difficult.

A younger and healthier Pope therefore will be able to visit Asia (South, Southeast, East Asia) perhaps as early as this year or next year, 2014. This is however not to say that an Asian Pope will be elected, just yet. The time has not come yet in this election for an Asian Pope. Only in the next election, which hopefully will be held in about a decade from now or more, that the first Asian Pope may be possibly elected.

 

In the end, it is Pope Benedict XVI’s love for God, and God’s people in the Church that made him to decide to step aside for the good of the Church and the good of God’s mission in this world. However, this is not at all interpreted that it will be permanently so or that such a stepping down will be customary for the Popes. The Papacy is not an office, and not an institution, which for example like the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglicans, which is rotated after every number of years in manner akin to the secular and the worldly prime ministers and presidents. No, the Bishop of Rome’s position, as Christ’s only Vicar on this world is far beyond that. Only the Pope himself can decide when and if he will resign at all, and only in extreme cases should this be done.

Let us all pray therefore for our beloved Pope Emeritus, His Holiness Benedict XVI, that God will continue to look after him in his retirement, that through his new life dedicated in prayer, he can lead the Church with the new Pope, his successor, whom we also pray for, to fight against the evils of this world. We also pray for those who attack the Pope, the institution of our Church, and those who attack the faithful in Christ, that first we forgive them, and ask the Lord to enlighten their hearts, that they will learn the truth about His Church and its teachings, that they too will believe and be saved through the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

May God bless all of us, bless His One and Universal Church, and bless the whole world. Amen!

How the Conclave proceeds : A very nice and concise animation!

http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/come-si-elegge-il-papa/

Go and visit this site, which offers a very good and detailed though simple explanations on the way a Conclave proceeds. Not only that it is easy to follow, step-by-step from the beginning of the Conclave to after a new Pope is elected, I believe it’s quite neat too, with all the animations they did for the occasion. Good job Vatican Insider!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Life goes on : Let’s pray and continue our mission!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, life is still ongoing. Even if we are saddened by the resignation of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, let us show him our support by continuing to do our mission in the Church, for the good of all.

Now that we are waiting for the new Pope to be elected, let us fervently pray that God will give us a great new shepherd to succeed our beloved Pope, Benedict XVI. May God bless all of us. Amen!

As I am currently studying Italian and Latin, I am also writing this in Italian too (below) for my revision. If there is any mistake, do notify me and correct me.

Fratelli e sorelle in Cristo, la vita è ancora in corso. Anche se siamo addolorati per le dimissioni del nostro Santo Padre, Papa Benedetto XVI, cerchiamo di fargli vedere il nostro sostegno continuando a fare la nostra missione nella Chiesa, per il bene di tutti.

Ora che siamo in attesa per il nuovo papa ad essere eletto, con fervore pregare che Dio ci darà un grande nuovo pastore per avere successo il nostro amato Papa, Benedetto XVI. Che Dio benedica tutti noi. Amen!

Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Prayer for the Sick, Monday, 11 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation or retirement from the office of the Bishop of Rome, and he made his announcement on the Feast day of our Lady of Lourdes, which is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick, in remembrance of the miraculous healing at Lourdes.

Our Pope has given up his office as he is getting older and unable to shoulder much further the burden of the leadership of the Universal Church, and he is getting sick as old people do. Let us commend him to our Lady of Lourdes, and remember him always in our prayers through his retirement.

Here is the message from the Pope for the occasion, released in January 2013 :

MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER ON THE OCCASION
OF THE TWENTY-FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
(11 FEBRUARY 2013)

“Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. On 11 February 2013, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the
Twenty-first World Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated at the Marian
Shrine of Altötting. This day represents for the sick, for health care workers, for the
faithful and for all people of goodwill “a privileged time of prayer, of sharing, of
offering one’s sufferings for the good of the Church, and a call for all to recognize
in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ, who,
by suffering, dying and rising has brought about the salvation of mankind” (JOHN
PAUL II, Letter for the Institution of the World Day of the Sick, 13 May 1992, 3). On this
occasion I feel especially close to you, dear friends, who in health care centres or at
home, are undergoing a time of trial due to illness and suffering. May all of you be
sustained by the comforting words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council:
“You are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless. You have been called by
Christ and are his living and transparent image” (Message to the Poor, the Sick and the
Suffering).

2. So as to keep you company on the spiritual pilgrimage that leads us from
Lourdes, a place which symbolizes hope and grace, to the Shrine of Altötting, I
would like to propose for your reflection the exemplary figure of the Good
Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37). The Gospel parable recounted by Saint Luke is part of a
series of scenes and events taken from daily life by which Jesus helps us to
understand the deep love of God for every human being, especially those afflicted
by sickness or pain. With the concluding words of the parable of the Good
Samaritan, “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), the Lord also indicates the attitude that
each of his disciples should have towards others, especially those in need. We need
to draw from the infinite love of God, through an intense relationship with him in
prayer, the strength to live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good
Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or
not we know them and however poor they may be. This is true, not only for
pastoral or health care workers, but for everyone, even for the sick themselves, who
can experience this condition from a perspective of faith: “It is not by sidestepping
or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for
accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ,
who suffered with infinite love” (Spe Salvi, 37).

3. Various Fathers of the Church saw Jesus himself in the Good Samaritan; and
in the man who fell among thieves they saw Adam, our very humanity wounded
and disoriented on account of its sins (cf. ORIGEN, Homily on the Gospel of Luke
XXXIV,1-9; AMBROSE, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, 71-84; AUGUSTINE,
Sermon 171). Jesus is the Son of God, the one who makes present the Father’s love,
a love which is faithful, eternal and without boundaries. But Jesus is also the one
who sheds the garment of his divinity, who leaves his divine condition to assume
the likeness of men (cf. Phil 2:6-8), drawing near to human suffering, even to the
point of descending into hell, as we recite in the Creed, in order to bring hope and
light. He does not jealously guard his equality with God (cf. Phil 2:6) but, filled
with compassion, he looks into the abyss of human suffering so as to pour out the
oil of consolation and the wine of hope.

4. The Year of Faith which we are celebrating is a fitting occasion for intensifying
the service of charity in our ecclesial communities, so that each one of us can be a
good Samaritan for others, for those close to us. Here I would like to recall the
innumerable figures in the history of the Church who helped the sick to appreciate
the human and spiritual value of their suffering, so that they might serve as an
example and an encouragement. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy
Face, “an expert in the scientia amoris” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 42), was able to
experience “in deep union with the Passion of Jesus” the illness that brought her
“to death through great suffering” (Address at General Audience, 6 April 2011). The
Venerable Luigi Novarese, who still lives in the memory of many, throughout his
ministry realized the special importance of praying for and with the sick and
suffering, and he would often accompany them to Marian shrines, especially to the
Grotto of Lourdes. Raoul Follereau, moved by love of neighbour, dedicated his life
to caring for people afflicted by Hansen’s disease, even at the world’s farthest
reaches, promoting, among other initiatives, World Leprosy Day. Blessed Teresa of
Calcutta would always begin her day with an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist
and then she would go out into the streets, rosary in hand, to find and serve the
Lord in the sick, especially in those “unwanted, unloved, uncared for”. Saint Anna
Schäffer of Mindelstetten, too, was able to unite in an exemplary way her sufferings
to those of Christ: “her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a
missionary service. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring
intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her
counsel” (Canonization Homily, 21 October 2012). In the Gospel the Blessed Virgin
Mary stands out as one who follows her suffering Son to the supreme sacrifice on
Golgotha. She does not lose hope in God’s victory over evil, pain and death, and
she knows how to accept in one embrace of faith and love, the Son of God who was
born in the stable of Bethlehem and died on the Cross. Her steadfast trust in the
power of God was illuminated by Christ’s resurrection, which offers hope to the
suffering and renews the certainty of the Lord’s closeness and consolation.

5. Lastly, I would like to offer a word of warm gratitude and encouragement to
Catholic health care institutions and to civil society, to Dioceses and Christian
communities, to religious congregations engaged in the pastoral care of the sick, to
health care workers’ associations and to volunteers. May all realize ever more fully
that “the Church today lives a fundamental aspect of her mission in lovingly and
generously accepting every human being, especially those who are weak and sick”
(Christifideles Laici, 38).
I entrust this Twenty-first World Day of the Sick to the intercession of Our
Lady of Graces, venerated at Altötting, that she may always accompany those who
suffer in their search for comfort and firm hope. May she assist all who are
involved in the apostolate of mercy, so that they may become good Samaritans to
their brothers and sisters afflicted by illness and suffering. To all I impart most
willingly my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 2 January 2013
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

When will the See of Rome become vacant around the world? Let’s pray then!

To all Catholics around the world, my brothers and sisters in Christ, the See of Rome will be vacant as of Rome time (CET/UTC+1), 8.00 pm on 28 February 2013, which corresponds to these times :

Los Angeles / PST / UTC-8 : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11.00 am

New York / EST / UTC-5 : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 2.00 pm

London / GMT / UTC : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 7.00 pm

Jakarta, Bangkok / UTC+7 : Friday, 1 March 2013 at 2.00 am

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Beijing / UTC+8 : Friday, 1 March 2013 at 3.00 am

I do not think many will be awake or stay awake, or at work, and busy at this time, but if you are awake or available, let us make this hour an hour of prayer, for our current Pope Benedict XVI, his to-be-elected successor, and for the whole Church.

Ash Wednesday with Pope Benedict XVI : Maybe to be his last public Mass as our Pope

http://www.vatican.va/video/

Tune in to Vatican Player at the site above for the Ash Wednesday celebration with the Pope from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It is scheduled to be on Wednesday, 13 February 2013, at 5.00 pm CET (Central European Time) or UTC+1

The timings in other regions :

UTC : Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 4.00 pm

EST/UTC-5 : Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 11.00 am

PST/UTC-8 : Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 8.00 am

UTC+7 (West Indonesia and Thailand) : Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 11.00 pm

UTC+8 (Singapore, Malaysia, HK, China) : Thursday, 14 February 2013 at 00.00 am

As this may well be the last large public Mass Pope Benedict XVI will be presiding in, let’s give him our support and pray with him, and participate together from all over the world in the Mass celebrated by our beloved Pope Benedict XVI!

The Papacy, St. Peter the Apostle, and Christ : the unbreakable chain

‎”No chain is stronger than its weakest link, and the weakest link of the chain of Popes was the first (Peter). But that weak link was held in the hands of Christ. That is why the papacy will never fail.” – Venerable Fulton Sheen

Christ Himself have the Church firmly in His hands, and He will not let go. He is faithful to us just as we are faithful to Him. The Church He has built and the authority He has given to Peter to feed His sheep, will never fail.