Monday, February 11, 2013

A stunner from the Vatican

One of the things I love about this job is that you never know what is going to happen, and you can pretty much count most days on seeing something you have never seen before.

Word comes this morning that Pope Benedict XVI will resign. The announcement came from the Vatican early this morning. It is momentous for several reasons.

First and foremost is the fact that it has not happened in centuries. The last time a sitting pontiff stepped down was 600 years ago. I don’t think any of us were around for that one.

It appears Pope Benedict’s failing health simply no longer will allow him to perform the duties of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

The 85-year-old pontiff made several references to his health this morning in making his announcement, first stressing that the job demands “both strength of mind and body.”

“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,” he told the cardinals. “I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.

The process to select the next pontiff - known as a conclave - is expected to take place in March, as soon as the pope’s resignation is effective.

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