2 years ago today, Pope Benedict resigned the papacy
Two years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI announced before a gathering of cardinals he would step down as pope at the end of the month.
Seated on a gold throne, wrapped in a red, fur-lined cape, Benedict sounded tired as he noted his “advanced age” and deteriorating strength, as well as “rapid changes” in a world “shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.”
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals,” he said in Latin.
A cameraman put his hand to his mouth.
A cardinal began to sob.
And then there was silence, according to an eyewitness accountpublished last year in the Catholic Herald.
It was the first time a pope voluntarily had left the papacy in nearly 600 years.
“He has now shown great courage in deciding, after prayer and soul-searching, to resign his office at the end of this month,” Francis Cardinal George, then-archbishop of Chicago, said at the time.
A year-and-a-half later, George made history himself when he made a similar announcement, becoming the first archbishop of Chicago ever to resign from the office.
Benedict, the former Joseph Ratzinger, was elected pope on April 19, 2005, following the death of Pope John Paul II.