The Church Universal woke up today to the unexpected news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign as the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter effective 8:00 pm Rome time on February 28, 2013. This is the first time in modern history that a living Pontiff will resign from office.
From the very beginning of his Petrine Ministry, (successor to St. Peter) April 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has been a loving Shepherd of the Universal Church. His faith and prayer, his depth of theological insight and writings have been a tremendous blessing and light to the Church over the past eight years. Now, just short of his 86th birthday, he reveals that he no longer has the strength of mind and body to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to him. This decision is one that he has made prayerfully and with full freedom. Our Holy Father’s decision to step down is an incredible act of humility. We therefore trust that it is in the best interest of the Church.
We continue as a people of faith to pray for our Holy Father, that God will bless him and give him peace of heart and strength of spirit in the days ahead. Prayers are also asked now for the College of Cardinals as the planning begins to gather for the next Conclave that will elect the next successor to St. Peter. These moments of transition from one Pope to the next are always exciting times, and because of the long-standing tradition and process of the Church to elect a new Supreme Pastor, we place our hope and confidence in the Providence of God, the presence and action of Christ in and through His Church, and the never failing guidance of the Holy Spirit.