Advancing age forces Pope Benedict XVI to quit office
He also referred to “today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith”.
The last Pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months, his resignation was known as “the great refusal” and was condemned by the poet Dante in the “Divine Comedy”. Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the papacy.
“No outside pressure,” just advancing age
Before he was elected Pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was known by such critical epithets as “God's rottweiler” because of his stern stand on theological issues.
But after several years into his new job Benedict showed that he not only did not bite but barely even barked.
In recent months, the Pope has looked increasingly frail in public, sometimes being helped to walk by those around him.
Lombardi ruled out depression or uncertainty as being behind the resignation, saying the move was not due to any specific illness, just advancing age.
The Pope had shown “great courage, determination” aware of the “great problems the church faces today”, he said, adding the timing may have reflected the Pope's desire to avoid the exhausting rush of Easter engagements.
There was no outside pressure and Benedict took his “personal decision” in the last few months, he added.
Israel's Chief Rabbi praised Benedict's inter-faith outreach and wished him good health. The Archbishop of Canterbury, had of the Anglican
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