Pope Benedict XVI resigned 'for the good of the church'
85-year-old German cleric received standing ovation from faithful at the Vatican
Benedict XVI has made his first public appearance since his shock announcement earlier this week that he will abdicate.
Addressing thousands of faithful in his weekly audience hall meeting in the Vatican this morning, the Pope said he was stepping down “for the good of the church”.
As the 85-year-old German cleric walked into the chamber he received a standing ovation with many of those present bursting into tears. A huge banner reading “Grazie Santita” (Thank you Your Holiness) was strung up at the back of the hall.
Although he looked frail and spoke in soft tones, the Pope was clearly overwhelmed with joy at the response he had received from the crowds. On Monday Benedict opted to announce his resignation in Latin, but for today’s weekly audience he switched to the more accessible Italian. But the message he gave was the same – that old age and a lack of energy meant there was simply no point continuing in a job that he believes a younger successor could do more successfully.
“As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005,” he said, to applause. “I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.”
Benedict’s resignation speech on Monday sent shockwaves around the world. No Pope has given up the papacy for the last 600 years. But Benedict had previously been on record that Pope’s who struggle to do their job should consider stepping down.
During his time in the Vatican, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger witnessed first-hand the physical deterioration of his predecessor John Paul II and analysts say that experience helped forged his opinion that Pope’s should not carry on to the end if they cease to be able to do their jobs.
He will remain in the Vatican and his older brother George has insisted that Benedict will play no part in deciding his successor.
This morning’s audience was the start of a busy day for Benedict: he will also preside over Ash Wednesday services to mark the official start of the Catholic Church's Lenten season. The service is usually held in a church on Rome's Aventine hill, but was moved at the last minute to St Peter's Basilica to accommodate the crowds, although it will also spare the pope the usual procession to the church.
The Vatican insisted no serious medical ailment was behind Benedict's decision to retire, though it admitted for the first time yesterday that he has had a pacemaker for years and recently had it replaced.
The move sets the stage for a conclave by mid-March to elect a new pope. Benedict's final general audience will be held February 27.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Manag...