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Germany's Pope Benedict to step down
Photo: DPA

Germany's Pope Benedict to step down

Published: 11 Feb 2013 12:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Feb 2013 14:45 GMT+01:00

"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," Benedict said in a statement released by the Vatican.

"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."

Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in 1927 in the Bavarian town Marktl am Inn, spent his entire life in the Church. He was ordained priest at the same time as his older brother Georg in 1951, and began teaching theology at Freising College in 1958. He was made pope in April 2005.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the German-born pope deserved "respect" and "gratitude" for his nearly eight years as pontiff.

Click for a gallery of the Pope's highlights

"If the pope himself decided after considerable reflection that his strength no longer enabled him to carry out his duties, that has my deepest respect," Merkel said a press conference in Berlin.

She paid tribute to his work in reaching out to other churches and other religions, including Jews and Muslims. Merkel, the daughter of Protestant pastor, said the pope had "touched the heart of believers" on his trips to his ancestral homeland and that his address to the German parliament in 2011 was "still remembered."

"He is and remains one of the most significant religious thinkers of our time. As chancellor I thank him for his efforts and wish him from my heart all the best for the coming years."

The 85-year-old Benedict is only the second pope in history to resign.

His brother Georg Ratzinger said the pope had been advised against making any further transatlantic trips and that he had been considering stepping down for months.

"My brother wants more rest while getting older," Ratzinger said, adding it was a "natural process."

The pope is expected to live out his days in cloister inside the Vatican monastery.

Germany's pope

Joseph Ratzinger gained a reputation as a Church conservative while serving as the head of doctrinal matters for his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

His appointment as pontiff excited German Catholics, who hoped it would re-energize the Church.

Germany's biggest newspaper Bild famously put "Wir sind Papst!" ("We are Pope!") on its front page at the time.

However, Benedict's decision to rehabilitate a breakaway group of fundamentalist Catholics that included a well-known Holocaust denier would infuriate many Germans and even spark a rare rebuke from Merkel.

The pope was also criticized for not doing enough to stop child abuse by Catholic priests while he was archbishop of Munich.

But across Germany on Monday, tributes to Benedict far outweighed criticism of his tenure at the head of the Church.

"Pope Benedict has given the entire world a shining example of the true understanding of responsibility and and vibrant love of the Church," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the Germany Bishops' Conference.

"We German bishops thank the Holy Father for his service on the Chair of St. Peter and are filled with great respect and awe by his decision."

The Local/AFP/DPA/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:52 February 11, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
There goes another German job.
12:55 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
@Berlin fuer alles

Nice one ,I'm off to the job centre, if they can send girls to brothels they can send me to the Vatican.
13:06 February 11, 2013 by Margaret.Shiels
One wonders what the REAL reason is behind the abdication. Will we ever know? After all, he and his Church have a lot on their plate these days....
13:12 February 11, 2013 by blackboot11
@ MS above: Yes, what are the REAL reasons for this? but ts about time... he was such a POOR choice for this position of leadership.

maybe the cardinals will have the good foresight to choose a successor that is not of the dark ages...
14:21 February 11, 2013 by SchwabHallRocks
Maybe he did not possess the charming, warm charisma of JPII (but who does in this world?) but he did a fine job.

The most interesting thing is that he is actually retiring. It is meant to be a position for the rest of one's life.

@ Margaret, - please if you want to start a conspriacy do it somwhere else. He is 86 years old. How many 86 year olds do you know head up, or have ever run, an organization as large as this. The answer is none.
14:26 February 11, 2013 by The-ex-pat
Is he doing a runner before anyone asks about his Doctor of the Church title. The bible is so think, a couple of pages cut and pasted, no one will notice........lol
15:18 February 11, 2013 by Zubair Khan
Spiritual head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in 2012 wrote him to study Islam from the Ahamdiyya perspective. The Pope may now have more time at his disposal to read about Ahmadiyya Islam. There are many articles for him on the official website of Ahmadiyya Muslim Commumnity. Almighty enable him to do so. Best of luck.
15:31 February 11, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
@ zubair. You mean trade fairy tales?
15:33 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
Oh no, bet he doesn't have a pension plan ,what will he do?
17:28 February 11, 2013 by mitanni
@Englishted Are you being sarcastic? As a high ranking Catholic church official in Germany, the Pope used to be a German civil servant. He made upwards of EU 10000 / month, plus a free residence and maid, and he has probably has received about 75% of that as a pension. Most German bishops, cardinals, and professors of theology in Germany are paid for by the tax payer, separately from the church tax.
18:26 February 11, 2013 by SchwabHallRocks
Do you still have to pay the church tax in Germany?
18:58 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
@mitanni

Oh does he still have Germany citizenship ,as head of state of a sovereign nation I did not think he would .

@ SchwabHallRocks

Only if you have had a operation to have your brain removed.
19:46 February 11, 2013 by www.emungus.net
Chilling. Seriously this is a disturbing news.
19:54 February 11, 2013 by bellsucks
Who smells Political Motivation here. Will know for sure by end of March.
20:03 February 11, 2013 by Bavaria Mike
Maybe he woke up one day and said "I'm tired of all this BS" and wants to retire and go fishing, LOL. So who will be the next Pope? I say African as I heard an Ex USA Ambassador said the Vatican looks at the USA as a source of income, with apparently, more Catholics in Africa. We could see the first black Pope, doubtful though.
20:13 February 11, 2013 by lucksi
Everybody pays for the church in Germany to the tune of billions a year. And that is not due to church taxes, that is atop of it. And that is one of the great unjust things that we have to pay for those people.
20:24 February 11, 2013 by Bavaria Mike
Church Tax was Hitler's invention to communicate to the masses. It worked and is still in place. There are some loop holes, if you agree to raise your family Catholic but, you as the money earner are not Catholic, then you are not allowed to pay Catholic church taxes.
22:59 February 11, 2013 by st_lou
So he´s staying in the Vatican, he won´t be propping up the Stammtisch in some Bavarian village after his retirement then.
23:30 February 11, 2013 by Katinkaxx
"Church Tax was Hitler's invention to communicate to the masses"

Where did you get that from? The German church tax was introduced long before Hitler.
23:39 February 11, 2013 by jarkis
The church tax (Kirchensteuer) actually traces its roots back as far as the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803. It was reaffirmed in the Concordat of 1933 between Nazi Germany and the Catholic Church. Today its legal basis is article 140 of the Grundgesetz (the German "constitution") in connection with article 137 of the Weimar constitution. These laws originally merely allowed the churches themselves to tax their members, but in Nazi Germany, collection of church taxes was transferred to the German government. As a result, both the German government and the employer are notified of the religious affiliation of every tax payer. This system is still in effect today.
00:11 February 12, 2013 by Leo Strauss
Damn! They finally found out that Ratzi played the part of the Devil in 'Lost Highway'.
13:31 February 12, 2013 by keeps71
The only sad thing about the Pope resigning is that they'll appoint a new one.
14:25 February 14, 2013 by Firmino
Amen, Keeps71! Can't wait for this whole farce to come to an end!
19:46 February 16, 2013 by Maynard33
Why does the first german pope wimp out. Hitler was a hypno-patzy you know, paid by the americans, just as mussolini was a british agent. Do not forget the past. Catholicism was invented.
21:48 February 18, 2013 by Pakistani
why is the pope always wearing a costume?????? and in doing so is he any different form the dude wearing the mickey mouse costume at disney land?????? do you really take a guy wearing a costume seriously???? especially when you consider yourselves the hub of civilization?
19:17 February 21, 2013 by Zubair Khan
@Berlin fuer alles. Your are intresting personality. Enjoy following comments.

Pope is retiring. It has erupted a power struggle in Vatican. While analysing the future of Catholic Church please ponder about below mentioned claimant also."In this age of moral and spiritual deterioration, world tension and conflicts - God, out of His infinite grace and mercy, raised a holy person, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, in the attributive position of Jesus. His objective: to heal the morally sick, to enliven the spiritually dead, and to create a living relationship between man and his Maker. The world had been waiting anxiously for the Promised Prophet, the Promised Messiah or the Promised Mahdi. He claimed that it was he whose coming and appearance was predicted by the prophets of great religions. . At the age of forty he received the revelations, pure words from the Living God, and in 1891 A.D. he claimed to be the Promised Messiah. Hazrat Ahmad, who lived from 1835 to 1908, showed thousands of miracles which are quite beyond the power of any human being. The beauty of his character, the acceptance of his prayers and magnificence of his signs were unique.The Bible presents a criterion of a prophet:"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die". (Deuteronomy 18:20). The words, "that prophet shall die", can mean that a false claimant of revelation will not die a natural death, or that his movement will not flourish, since all true prophets are known to have passed away, including Moses, who mentioned this standard of judgment.Hazrat Ahmad continued to convey his divine revelations (Tazkirah) for about thirty years, died a natural death and his movement has been progressing throughout the world.Jesus presented this merit as a proof of the truth.

"Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46) The Promised Messiah, Hazrat Ahmad, also emphasized that it is inconceivable that an acknowledged truthful and holy person, who may have spent a considerable part of his life-time among his people, could turn out to be an i111poster and a liar. Very confidently, he said: "You cannot accuse me of fabricating a lie, or falsehood or deceit in my life preceding my claims, lest you may think that one who is used to lying may have done the same now. Which of you can find any fault with anything in my life? It is God's grace that from the very first, He guarded me against evil and made me lead a pious life". (Tazkiratush-Shahadatain p. 62. This indeed was a claim of great courage. For more details refer:http://www.alislam.org/library/books...leads-to-islam.

Has any eminent Catholic Theologist ever bothered to pay any attention to this claimant who clearly indicated that future of Cahtolic Church or Christianity as whole is leading to merger in to real Islam as prophesied by this claimant?
10:45 February 26, 2013 by Firmino
Dude, you're crazy. Get help.
06:16 February 27, 2013 by RosieRosebud
Real reason for resignation=lawsuit.

Found guilty of crimes against humanity. Also of financial crimes. Sentenced to 25 year prison term.

He received notice that arrest was coming.

Hence, resignation.

Final question=will ROME harbor him to prevent prison or will he serve sentence of 25 years?

Information is available but you will need to look outside mainstream media.
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