An estimated 7 million Americans will reach the age of 65 by the start of 2013, and many will no doubt be thinking about retiring. This is a statistic here in the United States, but an issue in every corner of the world that seniors face. Today, in far away Rome we learned that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28th because he was simply too infirm to carry on — the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years.
We are learning more about the reasons why after Pope Benedict spoke to the press and his followers. Additionally, in other press releases, the pontiff’s brother said he had been considering this for months amid ailing health and the burdens of old age.
Georg Ratzinger, 89, told the dpa news agency at his home in Regensburg that his brother had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and was having increasing difficulty walking. “His age is weighing on him,” Ratzinger said of his 85-year-old brother, Pope Benedict XVI who announced earlier in the day he would resign Feb. 28. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”
So when is the right time to resign from a life of active duty and responsibility? In today’s world, our life span is lengthening. Along with the blessing of an ever-lengthening life, there are the burdens of aging to deal with that are very real.
Home care providers can attest to this fact as they care for people who recognize their limits. This is not an act of weakness, but an act of courage to realize that one is no longer physically or psychologically capable of handling the duties of caring for the home, self or other family members.
I applaud the courageness of the pontiff and wish him well and rest.
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 barque 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