Pope Benedict's resignation

He gave his reason for resigning, please do not speculate that it is anything other than what he said , lest you be guilty of bearing false witness.


I didn’t make a statement. I asked a question – two, to be exact. I don’t remember what he said his reason was. Please don’t accuse me of trying to bear false witness. I simply asked. Nothing more.

I actually asked three questions. Has any other Pope in Church history resigned?


Whoa…the OP did not speculate, rather only asked a question…your own approach in dealing with the OP could equally be construed as bearing false witness.
Play nice!


The real reason was health. He was suffering from health problems, which were preventing him from carrying out the normal duties of his office. Hence the need to pass the torch.

One of the unexpected benefits of this is that he seems to be filling a mentor role for Pope Francis.


It was just health. Remember, he had other high profile jobs in the Vatican. He planned on resigning from them too, but JP II needed him there and asked him to stay.


The Pope stated it is was for health reasons due to old age.


Oh, okay. Well, I hope his health is better, now. Obviously, he understood the need to take care of himself. I just remember there were other questions around his resignation at the time.

Now that I think of it, I seem to recall another Pope who had resigned 600 years before Benedict did. Which one was he?

There were also questions, and some controversy, around the death of Pope John Paul I, whose Papacy only lasted 30 days. Did they ever really find out how it happened?


Up to 10 popes in history may have resigned, but historical evidence is limited. Before Benedict XVI, only five popes unambiguously resigned with historical certainty, all between the 10th and 15th centuries, with the next most recent being Gregory XII in 1415. That said, both the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law provided for popes to resign - noting that their resignation doesn’t have to be accepted by anyone. Pope-emeritus Benedict resigned due, in his words to a “lack of strength of mind and body” as a result of his advanced age.

As an historical aside, traditionally there was no retirement age for bishops like there is now - they either kept going until they were too old or sick to continue or died in office (like almost all the pope prior to Benedict). With life expectancy (at least in the Western world) significantly increased from what it was say, 50 years ago, Benedict’s decision seems a sensible one for his successors to follow.


Thank you for that history lesson. He made a sensible decision, indeed.


You seem to lean to a view that the there is some subterfuge at work? That the “truth” of these events is being hidden? Why that disposition?

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Between John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the precedent is set for the Pope to do whatever he discerns is best for the Church. There isn’t an artificial standard that is supposed to work for every possibility. That’s more realistic.


Not so much a disposition as wishing to ferret out the truth from the conspiracy theories that surrounded John Paul’s death at the time it occurred, and have persisted, on and off, ever since. The media has spurred them on and planted suspicions in people’s minds, and I don’t recall if there was ever an autopsy and what the final finding was.

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Health, I know you are not looking at promoting conspiracy theories. It would take the grace of God and a very fit gentleman past his 70s to be flying around the world and working long hours daily. I believe Pope Benedict does have a medical issue too.

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And by the same reasoning, that person did not accuse you of anything.

These questions you speak of are not from the church. No one had any authority to question the reason given. Therefore, all such questions should be suspect, if not just dismissed out of hand.

Age is not the only indicator of health. We have had many popes throughout history who were so ill that they really couldn’t govern effectively–and sometimes those who exercised power in their names were not exactly admirable. I think we need to trust that Pope Benedict did what he believed was best for the Church. Yes, he is still alive, but living in a quiet retirement–with, I would hope, the best of medical and personal care. That is very different from the stresses and demands of the life of a governing pope.

As for John Paul II, he had been quite ill with Parkinson’s for quite some time when he entered eternal life. Autopsies are normally performed only when there is lack of clarity about cause of death. In this case, I think there was not. I do believe he taught us important lessons about suffering and faith during his illness, but there can be no doubt that he had been in failing health for quite some time.

I was referring to John-Paul I, whose Papacy only lasted 30 days.

It was obvious that his successor, John-Paul II was quite ill toward the end of his life, and he had been Pope for many, many years.

My apologies.

No apology needed. No worries.

He stated his age and health as the biggest reason. He was tired and felt that he could not effectively lead the Church in his advanced age, or something along those lines. Of course, there’s been speculation and conspiracies regarding his resignation, but I don’t buy that.

I believe I remember Pope Benedict was planning on retiring from Curial duties around the time he was elected. He wanted to go back to a life of prayer and study. I don’t think he had a great desire to be made Pope.

Pope St. Celestine V was the last pope to resign on his own accord, some 600-700 years ago. He wanted to go back to his simple life as a monk.

Vatican II “earnestly requested” that bishops less capable of fulfilling their duties due to age (it did not provide a particular age) offer their resignation on their own accord or upon the invitation of the competent authority (Christus Dominus 21). The reasoning the Council gave was that the office of bishop was “so important and weighty.” Given that reasoning, it seems this earnest request would apply even more so to the bishop of the diocese of Rome.

Pope Paul VI established ages for which bishops were required to offer their resignation to him, but he of course never resigned.

However, for the most part, in the past nearly all bishops, including the bishop of Rome, used to stay on until death (and if they didn’t, they usually received titular sees). Now emeritus bishops are common. We’ll see what happens with emeritus bishops of Rome.

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