Video, audio of pope announcing plans to resign

UPDATE: Video of pope announcing his resignation:

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Click on the orange and white arrow below to hear Pope Benedict XVI today announcing in Latin his intention to resign. He made the announcement at a meeting with cardinals gathered for an ordinary public consistory to approve the canonization of new saints.

Pope Benedict, citing age, announces he will resign

UPDATED STORYCiting health reasons, Pope Benedict announces he will resign

VATICAN CITY —  Saying he no longer has the strength to exercise ministry over the universal church, Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would be resigning at the end of the month.

“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,” the pope told cardinals gathered for an ordinary public consistory to approve the canonization of new saints.

Pope Benedict, who was elected in April 2005, will be the first pope to resign in almost 600 years.

He told the cardinals, “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 St. 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.”

The pope has had increasingly trouble walking in the past year, often using a cane and always being assisted getting up and down steps. However, the Vatican has never released medical information that would make it appear the pope suffers from anything other than joint pain connected to his age.

The option of a pope to resign is explicitly written into the Code of Canon Law. It says a pope may step down, but stipulates that the decision must be made freely and “duly manifested.”

Fulfilling the canonical requirement, Pope Benedict solemnly declared to the cardinals, “Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. 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 St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”

It is up to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to make preparations for a conclave to elect a new pope.

Before ending his remarks, Pope Benedict told the cardinals, “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.”

The pope made no mention of his future plans, other than to say, “I wish to also devotedly serve the holy church of of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

Cardinal George on the HHS mandate

ROME — Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, currently in Rome for a series of meetings with Vatican officials, spoke yesterday with CNS about the church’s ongoing dispute with the Obama administration over the HHS contraception mandate.

The immediate past president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had some insightful observations about what is at stake, and how the dispute could play out in the courts and the political arena.

New England Catholics: ‘Exercise prudence’ going to Mass

The Boston Archdiocese issued a statement Feb. 8 — long before snowflakes in the predicted blizzard started falling — urging Catholics to “exercise prudence” in attending Sunday Mass this weekend.

Boston pedestrian in snow Feb. 8 (CNS photo by Reuters)

Boston pedestrian in snow Feb. 8 (CNS photo by Reuters)

The statement advised Catholics to heed the travel advisories of their cities and towns and to stay off the roads during the peak hours of the storm and plow operation.

It noted that the bulk of the storm would take place Feb. 8-9 and that by Feb. 10 the roads might be clear.

In the event that roads are not clear, it stressed: “The faithful are reminded that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation,” according to canon law.

The Diocese of Providence, R.I., issued a similar statement telling Catholics they should “carefully heed the safety directives of state and local officials.”

It likewise urged Catholics to “use prudence and extreme caution,” stressing that in conditions which are “extremely difficult or dangerous,” Catholics are “dispensed from the normal obligation.”

The blizzard, dubbed Winter Storm Nemo, was expected to dump heavy snow and bring hurricane-force winds to parts of the Northeast starting the afternoon of Feb. 8 and continuing through the next day.

Horton, Flood honored by Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors

Two longtime social justice advocates will be honored by the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors this weekend.

George Horton, director of the Department of Social and Community Development in the Archdiocese of New York, and Gerald Flood, a volunteer in the jubilee debt relief movement, were selected for the honors earlier this year.

Horton will receive the Servant of Justice Award as a member of the association.

Flood, a member of St. Raphael Parish in Rockville, Md., will receive the Harry A. Fagan Roundtable Award for promoting Catholic social teaching.

Roundtable logoThe awards will be presented during the association’s annual symposium Feb. 9-10 as part of the lead-in to the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering next week.

Flood used his knowledge of international financial markets and their role in development from his years at the World Bank to help secure debt relief for some of the world’s poorest nations. After retiring from the World Bank in 1995, he volunteered with the Salesian Fathers and then for 15 years with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the issue.

“This was a high priority for the bishops’ conference and I wanted to do what I thought would be useful,” Flood told Catholic News Service.

He said his belief in the importance of securing debt relief came from his work at the World Bank in the Caribbean and Nigeria and his Catholic faith.

Working through political and financial channels, Flood called upon experience in developing nations to help the jubilee debt movement secure passage of key legislation in Congress that benefited heavily indebted poor countries. Because of the work billions of dollars now are used on development to reduce poverty rather than paying off huge amounts of accumulated debt.

“I dug in,” he said. “I dug in to very important work for poor people around the world.”

Horton began working at Catholic Charities in New York in 1981 and has directed the archdiocese’s social action effort since 1991. He helped establish the Education Outreach Program more than 20 years ago. The effort has helped more than 500 people make the transition out of homelessness.

“I’ve been involved with public policy for people who are poor in many different ways, in all aspects of poverty,” Horton, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish on New York’s Upper West Side, told CNS.

He points to the Education Outreach Program as a major success under his tenure. The program involves the appearance of formerly homeless people speaking at parishes so that parishioners can better understand their needs and begin to work for the development of improved social policies aimed at reducing homelessness.

Like Flood, Horton has been an adviser to the USCCB on social policy. He is widely known throughout the New York Archdiocese as a speaker on Catholic social teaching and regular contributor to Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Some Catholics have winter of discontent over king’s burial

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — In one of the most fascinating archaeological finds in recent times, a skeleton found under a parking lot in the central English city of Leicester has been confirmed by DNA tests as that to King Richard III, the monarch depicted by William Shakespeare as a devious hunchback uttering the memorable line: “Now is the winter of our discontent ….”

DNA tests proved bones found in an English parking garage were those of King Richard III. (CNS photo/Reuters)

DNA tests proved bones found in an English parking garage were those of King Richard III. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Richard was slain during the Battle of Bosworth Field Aug. 22, 1485, and his body was given a prompt burial under a Franciscan friary, which was later suppressed and demolished.

Bosworth had the effect of bringing the War of the Roses to a close, ending a long conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York and ushering in a new era because it also brought the victor to the English throne as Henry VII, the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Plans are afoot to bury the remains of Richard in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, and these have been met with indignation by some Catholics who believe that, because Richard was a Catholic (all of England was in the 15th century), he should be buried in a Catholic church using Catholic rites.

An e-petition has now been lodged on the British government website, a facility to allow the public to raise matters of concern. The petition points out that Richard was never a member of the Church of England and claims that the Anglican Church was an invention of the son of the “man responsible for his death and ignominious burial.”

A reconstruction of how the king would have looked. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A reconstruction of how the king would have looked. (CNS photo/Reuters)

This claim, however, is historically inaccurate. King Henry VIII did not create the Church of England but took the Catholic Church in England into schism: He would happily persecute both Catholics who asserted papal primacy and Protestants who denied the Real Presence. The Church of England, as it continues to exist, was created by his second daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, in the settlement originating from1558.

Richard was probably a double child-killer, responsible for the murders of Princes Edward and Richard, the rightful heirs to the throne, and burying their bodies under the steps of the White Tower, the central keep of the Tower of London.

And that’s why many Catholics feel that Anglicans are more than welcome to Richard’s remains.

Tag, you’re it, the extreme way

The Wall Street Journal had a great story last week about an unconventional game of tag that a group of friends from Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash., have been playing since they were in high school, and revived in an extreme way a few years after they graduated in 1983.

Each February the game is revived and whoever is “it” at the end of the month remains “it” for the rest of the year. As the men’s careers have taken them away from Washington, they’ve gone to sometimes extraordinary measures to make sure someone else is “it” when the clock runs out.

Over the years, some of the players fanned out around the country—which curbed the action but raised the stakes. At one point, Chris Ammann was living in Boston. So Mr. Konesky dipped into his frequent-flier miles and crossed the country on the last weekend of the month. He spent the next two days in the bushes outside Mr. Ammann’s apartment, sitting in his friend’s favorite bar or driving up and down his street. Mr. Ammann never showed. Mr. Konesky was “it” for the year.

“I felt bad,” says Mr. Ammann, who went out of town for the weekend. “I think I would have sacrificed getting tagged to spend some time with him.”

Having the resources of successful middle-aged men means wives, co-workers and vacation plans are involved in the annual quest to avoid getting tagged. One team member, a priest now living in Helena, Mont., faces special challenges:

Mr. Konesky, a tech-company manager, is now “it” again and has had 11 months to stew. With February approaching, he has been batting around a few plans of attack. He says he likes to go after people who haven’t been “it” for a while. That includes Father Raftis, who has been harder to reach since he moved to Montana but who, as several players pointed out, is a sitting duck on Sundays.

“Once I step foot outside the rectory, all bets are off,” the priest says. “I have to be a little more careful.”

Perhaps Father Sean Raftis will be spending an unusual amount of time — on an unpredictable schedule — at his parish’s missions this month.

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