Thanks to Golden Age of Gaia.
Note from Steve Beckow: It’s most probable that the resignation of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, the auditing of Queen Elizabeth of England, and the resignation of Pope Benedict are related and are part of the accountability sweep we’ve been long expecting. If so, things are moving quickly at the present time.
Pope Benedict XVI announces resignation
Paul Owen, Guardian, Feb. 11, 2013
Here is a summary of today’s key events:
• Pope Benedict XVI has resigned, saying that at his age he cannot carry out all his tasks adequately and is losing strength in body and mind. His brother Georg suggested he was finding it difficult to walk and had been advised to stop making transatlantic journeys.
• The pope will step down on 28 February. A papal conclave will follow to elect his successor, who will be in place by the end of March, and perhaps in time for holy week on 24 March.
• Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson, Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze, Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and Italy’s Angelo Scola emerged as some of the leading candidates to succeed Benedict. One of the next pope’s first trips abroad is likely to be to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day on 1 July.
• Benedict says he wishes to continue to serve the Catholic church “through a life dedicated to prayer”. He will revert to his former title of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger upon his resignation, the Catholic church in England said. There was “absolute silence” this morning when the pope told cardinals the news, according to Mexican prelate Monsignor Oscar Sanchez, who witnessed his resignation.
• The pope made his decision over the last few months, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said, and it took all his closest aides by surprise. He will honour his commitments until he steps down. Lombardi said this was Benedict’s own personal decision. Upon resigning, he will go to the papal summer residence near Rome, and then will move to a cloistered residence in the Vatican, which may make life difficult for his successor.
• The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican church, said he had learned of the pope’s resignation with a “heavy heart but complete understanding“.
• The last pope to resign was Gregory XII, in 1415.
I’m going to hand over to my colleague Tom McCarthy in New York now for continuing coverage of the reaction to Pope Benedict’s resignation.
Here’s the front page of today’s Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Bill McMurry, a lawyer from Kentucky, who has sued the Vatican for sexual abuse allegations going back as far as 1928, has told Karen McVeigh in New York it was difficult for him to believe that Benedict had stepped down for health reasons.
He said: “The world is stunned. We don’t see in the history of the papal world a pope stand down. It makes you wonder what’s going on.”
McMurry said he personally held Benedict responsible for “decades” of cover-up of the sex abuse scandal in the US, giving the example of his instructing bishops to send more paedophile priests from one district to another. He told the Guardian: “It is a good day when a bad pope or a bad leader of your religion steps aside.”
Alex Fenton-Thomas profiles the two other candidates that bookies are now predicting might replace Benedict.
Cardinal Francis Arinze
Converted from traditional animist beliefs at the age of nine, the Igbo Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze has been touted as papabile since before Pope John Paul II and was a leading candidate to be elected in 2005. He made his name during the Nigeria-Biafra war when, as archbishop of Onitsha, he organised the distribution of food and medical supplies to the poor in a region torn apart by the conflict. He was made a cardinal in 1985 and is known for his tolerance of elements of traditional worship in Catholic mass.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Marc Ouellet, a French-Canadian, has also been linked with the papacy in the past, especially since being appointed the head of the Congregation of Bishops, which appoints bishops throughout the world. Born in 1944 in rural Quebec, he was appointed archbishop of Quebec in 2002 and made cardinal a year later. He attracted controversy in 2010 when he addressed an anti-abortion conference in Quebec City, saying that terminating a pregnancy was a “moral crime”.
And west Africa correspondent Afua Hirsch adds this on Cardinal Peter Turkson:
Cardinal Peter Turkson
Peter Turkson, 64, was born on 11 October 1948 in Nsuta-Wassaw, a mining hub in Ghana’s western region, to a Methodist mother and a Catholic father. He studied and taught abroad in New York and Rome, before being ordained to the priesthood in 1975 and appointed archbishop of Cape Coast – the former colonial capital of Ghana and a key diocese – in 1992.
As archbishop Turkson was known for his human touch, colleagues said. “We love him,” said Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, metropolitan archbishop of Ghanaian capital Accra, who was made archbishop in Ghana at the same time as Cardinal Turkson and has known him since school. “For Ghanaians he was our first cardinal, and to be made cardinal in his 50s was a big feather in our cap.”
Turkson’s popularity in west Africa has been boosted by his regular TV appearances, particularly a weekly broadcast on state television channel Ghana TV, Catholic Digest. He has maintained strong ties with his native country in addition to his duties in the Vatican.
Turkson’s time in the role has not been without controversy, however. He sparked an outcry last year when he screened a YouTube film at an international meeting of bishops featuring alarmist predictions at the rise of Islam in Europe.
The clip, Muslim Demographics, features claims such as: “In just 39 years France will be an Islamic republic.”
Colleagues in Ghana voiced approval towards Cardinal Turkson’s stance on social matters, but confirmed that he would be unlikely to take the church in a radical direction on contentious issues such as abortion and contraception.
In the past Turkson has not ruled out the use of condoms but advocated abstinence and fidelity, and treatment for HIV infected people above spending on and promoting the use of contraception.