The Pope made this announcement in Latin at a meeting in Vatican. A Vatican representative later confirmed this information for the Agence France-Presse. Italian news agency ANSA reported, with a reference to Vatican’s press secretary, that the pontiff will step down on February 28. In the end of last year Benedict XVI started to use Twitter and ever since then has been twitting in eight languages. The information on resignation has not appeared on his Twitter page. Benedict XVI became the 265th Pope of Rome in 2005, being the oldest pontiff at the time of his election since the time of Pope Clement XII, who was elected in 1730. Reportedly by British Telegraph, last year the Pope started to use a walking stick too often, and recently many people noticed that he had problems with reading the text during his Christmas address in Rome. The last time Pope of Rome announced his voluntary resignation was 500 years ago: Gregory XII resigned in 1415.
Andrii YURASH, religion expert:
“Pope Benedict XVI became the pontiff of the Catholic Church in 2005. These eight years of his papacy can be called years of stability, getting deeper in the traditional values and dogmatic priorities of the Catholic Church.
“Since the Second Vatican Council the mechanism of the Catholic Church has cracked up. I mean new theological concepts, new schemes of getting adapted to life circumstances, and apparently, radical reforms. At this point of time, after a period of changes and exploration, Pope Benedict XVI decided to stop. That was a period of spiritual stop with prayer contemplations. It does not mean that this stop has been negative. Sometimes, it is worth stopping, thinking, contemplating, in order to approve the right decision.
“In my opinion, an indisputable merit of this pontiff has been the fact that he has removed several extremities. Above all, I am speaking about the case of Lefebvre adherents, an opposition group which de facto seceded from the Catholic Church, refusing to accept the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, and continuing to declare the need for preserving old-time postulates, dogmatic foundations, and religious base. Actually, Pope Benedict XVI started a dialogue inside the church, which turned out to be advantageous for both sides. Officially Vatican refused from the radical-modernist stand, declaring pluralism as the foundation of its social-world outlook doctrine in the modern world, which envisages communication with traditional Catholics. As a result, if the parishioners desire the liturgy may be served in Latin, and there is no need to ask the bishop for permission, as it was after the Second Vatican Council.
“Even his move to resign is a step of a strong personality. For the opinion were established that in this complicated period of life for the Catholic Church (scandals with Pope’s valet who stole his documentation, pedophilia among Roman-Catholic priests…) the Apostolic Father simply cannot step down. But taking into account his age and state of health, the Pope understood that he is no more capable of fulfilling the undertaken mission. Therefore it was absolutely logical to leave, giving an opportunity to another person with full administrative commissions and physical ability to serve the Church in a better and more dynamic way.
“On the whole, Pope Benedict XVI has been blamed for conservatism and lack of dynamism. But it appears that he was one of the few present-day religion figures, for whom faith and spirituality meant much more than politics, intrigues, and care of material values. I think many church figures could follow his example. Above all I am speaking not only about resignation itself, but non-hypocritical spirituality and attempts, responding to all the modern challenges, to get focused on traditional church values and spiritual foundations.”