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The "Luminous"* Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI

* quoted from Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, in a statement of 11 February 2013

April 19, 2005 – February 28, 2013

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, 264th Successor of Saint Peter, on Monday morning, February 11, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, rocked the world with the announcement of his resignation from the See of Peter, effective on February 28, less than 3 weeks later. In making this known to a small consistory in Rome, the pontiff used not the vernacular Italian, nor his native German, but the venerable official language of the Church, Latin.

…ministerio Episcopi Romæ, Successoris Sancti Petri, commissum renuntiare…

The full text, in English translation:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


Pope Benedict will long be remembered for his inspired leadership in the area of liturgy and music. The Holy Father, a true professor at heart, has written clearly and directly on this matter many times. We at CNP are privileged to have brought the Pope's thoughts to you in articles and books, and we take this opportunity to present them anew to you at the end of Papa Ratzinger's pontificate.

Articles on Pope Benedict

The books of Pope Benedict on liturgy and music

The documents of Pope Benedict pertaining to liturgy and music

Other products

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI As Josef Ratzinger begins a new phase of his ordained ministry in prayer and contemplation, we bid him all good graces and many more years of life and service as a "simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."

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