Some 50,000 people turned out at the Vatican today to watch Pope soon-to-be-Emeritus Benedict XVI give his farewell address at St. Peter's Square, cheering and waving flags as the 85-year-old Pontiff, born Joseph Ratzinger, summed up his papacy: "The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good. There were also moments when there were stormy waters and headwinds," when "it seemed like the Lord was sleeping." (Among the "headwinds": institutional corruption and the protection of predatory priests.) But don't sweat it: he's not "coming down from the Cross," he's just serving it in new ways, mostly involving prayer. Benedict's pontificate oficially ends Thursday at 8 p.m. Italian time, when the Swiss Guards outside Castel Gondolfo—the summer residence to which he'll be traveling tomorrow afternoon—march off; at the end of the week, the Cardinals (at least a dozen of whom are "tarnished with accusations that they had failed to remove priests accused of sexually abusing minors") will have begun the process to choose a new pope. His seal, and the ring of his office will be destroyed. [Sky | Reuters | NYT | HuffPo]
Early Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced his plans to resign at the end of the month. Within minutes, gossips and conspiracy theorists across the internet were animated with discussion, all assuming that the pope's advanced age—his stated reason for the abdication—had nothing to do with the decision. Why did he really resign? We've collected some of the best theories.
Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday that he will resign the Papacy, effective February 28th, citing his declining health. "I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me," Benedict wrote in a statement. He is the first pope since 1415 to resign, and the office wil remain vacant until a successor is chosen by the traditional conclave of cardinals.