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Virtually unprecedented: papal resignation throughout history
Vatican Radio ^ | February 11, 2013

Posted on 02/11/2013 6:17:16 AM PST by NYer

No pope has resigned in almost 600 years. But Pope Benedict’s surprise announcement is not entirely unprecedented. More than 260 men have reigned as Pope since Saint Peter was martyred in Rome in the third decade after the death of Christ, and at least four of them have resigned.

We spoke to medieval historian Doctor Donald Prudlo, Associate Professor of History at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, about the history of papal resignations.

Listen:

Vatican Radio: It’s been centuries since a Pope has resigned the See of Peter. Can you tell us about the last Pope to resign?

Dr. Donald Prudlo: The last Pope to resign was almost six hundred years ago. It was Pope Gregory XII, who, in a very sacrificial gesture offered to resign so that the council of Constance could assume his power and appoint a new Pope, and in so doing bring an end Great Western Schism. So that was the last pope who actually resigned. So this is quite an unprecedented event.

VR: At one point there was a question of whether it was possible for a Pope to resign. When and how did the Church determine that this was possible?

DP: Certainly. At the end of the 13th century, a very holy hermit named Peter was elected as Pope Celestine V in order to break a deadlock in the conclave that had lasted nearly three years. He was elected because of his personal holiness, sort of a unity candidate. And once he got there, being a hermit, not used to the ways of the Roman Curia, he found himself somewhat unsuited to the task, that it wasn’t just holiness but also some shrewdness and prudence that was also required. So within six months he knew that he was really unequal to the task, and so he gathered the cardinals together in a consistory, just as was recently done, a couple hours ago, and he announced to the cardinals his intention to resign. Because of the Pope’s position as the supreme authority in the Church, Celestine declared that the pope could freely resign, that it was permissible, and that, because, as supreme authority, it did not have to be accepted by anyone. It just had to be freely manifested, as it says today in canon 332 of the Code of Canon Law. As long as it is freely and properly manifested it is to be accepted by no one. The Pope is the supreme authority. Because of this, his successor Boniface VIII in his redaction of Canon Law called the Liber Sextus inserted this constitution of Celestine V and it became normative Catholic law.

VR: Pope Celestine V was later canonised. Can you tell us a little more about this Pope?

DP: Celestine V was recognised by all as an extremely holy man. He was sort of the right man at the wrong time. And because of that, because of his personal holiness, because of his great virtue, he was later elevated to the honours of the altar. And this brings us to an interesting question: What happens to a pope after they resign? There was no precedent for this. And so what happened is that Boniface VIII granted Pope Celestine V sort of a hermit’s cell where he could watch over him. Some have called it an imprisonment; it was really more of a putting him under supervision. And Celestine V himself was very happy with this; he humbly acquiesced to this as it was much more like the hermit life that he had loved so much. Gregory XIII, on the other hand, was given a titular honorific and lived out his life, not as pope any more, but as a well-respected bishop, the person who had helped, who had really been instrumental in healing the Great Western Schism.

VR: Although it’s possible for a Pope to resign, it has happened very rarely. Can you tell us about some of the other Popes who have resigned?

DP: Well, Celestine V and his advisors were aware that this was an unusual process. And so what they did is they went back through history, they looked at the Liber Pontificalis, and they could go all the way back to Pope St. Pontian, in 235, one of the first bishops of Rome, who was arrested and sent to the salt mines, and in order for a successor to be able to be elected in Rome, he resigned his office. And so as early as 235 we have evidence of the possibility of Popes resigning for the good of the church. Several others, they tried to force them to resign. The Byzantines attempted to force Pope Silverius to resign, but he refused to. But that also demonstrates the possibility of resignation. And then, at a rather low point in the Church’s history, Pope Benedict IX, in the 1040s, resigned and attempted to re-acquire the papacy several times. But according to good reports, he too died in penance at the monastery of Grottaferrata outside of Rome.

VR: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about the significance of this decision, and maybe give us some historical insight into Pope Benedict’s pontificate?

DP: The important thing is that the Catholic Church is such an historically rooted church that we do have things to look to in order to deal with an event of this type. As unusual as it is, we can look back at the examples that I just spoke about and know that the laws which govern these things have been long established in Catholic canon law. And so, for instance, the rules regarding the conclave that is to come up have been rehearsed for nearly a millennium. And the Pope, Blessed John Paul II in his Constitution Universi Dominici gregis, once again re-affirmed these things that have been thought about and discussed for an exceptionally long time. So while we have, what is to us, a very, very shocking, and something that makes us certainly have concern for Pope Benedict himself, we know that the church has the resources and has the things from her history to be able to meet these challenging situations.



TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Ministry/Outreach
KEYWORDS: pope; popebenedict; poperesigns; resignation; synod; vatican
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1 posted on 02/11/2013 6:17:27 AM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Please pray for Pope Benedict XVI and the cardinals!


2 posted on 02/11/2013 6:18:27 AM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: NYer

Prayers!

German media reports the brother says doctors advised against flying.


3 posted on 02/11/2013 6:29:53 AM PST by Berlin_Freeper (If you want to ring the bell - you got to swing the hammer hard!)
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To: NYer

I feel overwhelming sadness I must pray


4 posted on 02/11/2013 6:30:44 AM PST by SaintDismas
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To: NYer

PETER THE ROMAN next?


5 posted on 02/11/2013 6:30:52 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: NYer

When I first read the title, I thought it said “paypal”. I was like “paypal” through history??! Paypal must be older than I thought.... I’d better read this one.. heheh!


6 posted on 02/11/2013 6:32:02 AM PST by MeOnTheBeach
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To: bmwcyle

Exactly what I thought lol!


7 posted on 02/11/2013 6:32:48 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: NYer

Its got to be both physically and mentally exhausting for anyone, let alone a man of that age.


8 posted on 02/11/2013 6:34:30 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: NYer

So will the Pope, by then former Pope, be a member of the conclave? I seem to remember that there is an age limit though. Any canonical scholars out there?


9 posted on 02/11/2013 6:36:10 AM PST by Mercat (Never laugh at live dragons)
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To: NYer

So what kind of influence will he have in the process of choosing the next Pope?

I’m not Catholic but I do feel that these things do have an effect on me so I’m hoping for another firmly conservative Pope.


10 posted on 02/11/2013 6:37:43 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Mercat

It was just reported that Benedict said he would t be part of the conclave


11 posted on 02/11/2013 6:38:10 AM PST by SaintDismas
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To: SaintDismas

Wouldn’t


12 posted on 02/11/2013 6:39:41 AM PST by SaintDismas
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To: cripplecreek

Me too.


13 posted on 02/11/2013 6:40:56 AM PST by buffaloguy
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To: SaintDismas; Art in Idaho; NewCenturions; Sioux-san; Youaskedforit; KirbDog; Teófilo; mojo114; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

14 posted on 02/11/2013 6:43:06 AM PST by narses
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To: SaintDismas; Art in Idaho; NewCenturions; Sioux-san; Youaskedforit; KirbDog; Teófilo; mojo114; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

15 posted on 02/11/2013 6:43:27 AM PST by narses
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To: cripplecreek
He will have no direct influence in the process

however, both Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul have been elevating conservatives to the ranks of bishops and cardinals, so the next Pope will be firmly conservative.

16 posted on 02/11/2013 6:51:34 AM PST by Cronos
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To: Mercat
I seem to remember that there is an age limit though. Any canonical scholars out there?

I believe there are voting, and non-voting members of the conclave. I think it might be age-bound...no voting members over the age of 80.

17 posted on 02/11/2013 6:52:07 AM PST by Lou L (Health "insurance" is NOT the same as health "care")
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To: SaintDismas
Per canon law the cutoff for voting is age 80. He's 84.

CC

18 posted on 02/11/2013 6:53:56 AM PST by Celtic Conservative
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To: NYer
The homos have been celebrating.
19 posted on 02/11/2013 6:55:11 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: cripplecreek

October 25, 2012

Catholics in the Tank for Obama

by George Neumayr

During a campaign event in 2011, a feminist stopped Barack Obama in mid-speech to ask him if he supported free contraceptives. Obama replied: “Darn tootin’!”

According to Obama’s secularist philosophy, this invented right to free contraceptives trumps the First Amendment’s right to religious freedom. If religious employers object to financing the sex lives of their employees, well, too bad, says Obama. It is “not fair” to expect women who work for “large” Catholic hospitals and schools to pay for their own contraceptives, he told a reporter earlier this year.

According to the latest polling, this political high-wire act—seeking to win the Catholic vote while warring on Catholic institutions—is not impossible for Obama to pull off. Indeed, it looks like he is headed for an impressive finish. As CNN reports, “Obama leads opponent Mitt Romney among Catholic voters by 54% to 39%, according to the survey, conducted from September 12 to 16 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.”

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/catholics-in-the-tank-for-obama


20 posted on 02/11/2013 6:58:31 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: goodwithagun

You should not be laughing.


21 posted on 02/11/2013 7:02:34 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: Mercat
So will the Pope, by then former Pope, be a member of the conclave?

He's over 80 so therefore ineligible to vote in Conclave.

22 posted on 02/11/2013 7:05:32 AM PST by pgkdan ( "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~Thomas Jefferson)
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To: cripplecreek
So what kind of influence will he have in the process of choosing the next Pope?

The Holy Father has been very diligent in promoting men of quality to the Red Hat his entire reign. In that regard I think he's already exerted tremendous influence over the upcoming conclave. I'm praying fervently for a holy pope, that IMHO would guarantee a conservative pope.

23 posted on 02/11/2013 7:15:23 AM PST by pgkdan ( "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~Thomas Jefferson)
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To: pgkdan
I'm praying fervently for a holy pope, that IMHO would guarantee a conservative pope.

The holinessof th enext pope being the guarantee...not MY prayers! Just to be clear.

24 posted on 02/11/2013 7:16:42 AM PST by pgkdan ( "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~Thomas Jefferson)
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To: pgkdan
I'm praying fervently for a holy pope

Think I'll join you.
25 posted on 02/11/2013 7:18:10 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: pgkdan

One of the replies said he had announced he would not because, right now he’s the Pope and theoretically he can change the rules I guess if he wants to.


26 posted on 02/11/2013 7:21:40 AM PST by Mercat (Never laugh at live dragons)
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To: NYer

Just reading about possible successors, I don’t like the idea of an “affirmative action” pick; HOWEVER, it actually seems like some of the African cardinals are maybe more “conservative” than the euros. i.e. Peter Turkson or Arinze compared to Scola. And with Africa kind of an Islam vs. Christianity battleground right now...


27 posted on 02/11/2013 7:35:14 AM PST by SMCC1
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To: cripplecreek; metmom; boatbums

Born again evangelicals can pray also, that God would grant them a pope who will uphold the evangelical gospel and recant from errors, such as assured infallibility, praying to the departed. Etc.


28 posted on 02/11/2013 8:11:52 AM PST by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: bmwcyle

About a common thought with another FReeper based on a list of traits supposedly linked to popes? You should not take yourself too seriously.


29 posted on 02/11/2013 8:21:59 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: Celtic Conservative

Actually, he is 85—will be 86 on April 16.


30 posted on 02/11/2013 8:29:15 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: goodwithagun

I guess you have no ides what this means.


31 posted on 02/11/2013 8:37:52 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: bmwcyle

Because it hasn’t happened in over 600 (I think) years? I don’t think anybody except the pope himself, plus perhaps his closest confidants, knows what this means. This is new territory for all of us. If you are in the know, please share with all of us the reason for the resignation and the great impact it will have on the Church and the world.


32 posted on 02/11/2013 8:45:15 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: daniel1212

That would be sorta like praying the president of the SBC joined RCIA...


33 posted on 02/11/2013 8:45:39 AM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: NYer
Continue to Pray for Pope Benedict [Ecumenical]
34 posted on 02/11/2013 8:45:39 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: goodwithagun

What happen as Islams takes the Middle East and Obama pulls us back from the Middle East? What happens as Obama takes us towards 0 nukes and carriers that can’t sail? What happens with a armed force turned toward Americans? It is not funny. I have known this day was coming. It is now here.


35 posted on 02/11/2013 8:50:30 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: bmwcyle

This is going to happen because the pope resigned, or are you referring to a prophesy that has been neither legitimized nor recognized by the Church? God tells us we will not know the day or time. I’ll take His word above St. Malachi’s.


36 posted on 02/11/2013 9:08:07 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: goodwithagun

Read it again. You did not get the words right. We will not know the hour but will we know it is coming. You need much more study.


37 posted on 02/11/2013 9:42:50 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: Verginius Rufus
I stand corrected.

CC

38 posted on 02/11/2013 10:04:01 AM PST by Celtic Conservative
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To: daniel1212

Or rather pray for a Pope that will make a reality the prayer of Jesus in John Chapter 17, that his believers will be ONE.


39 posted on 02/11/2013 10:25:40 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: bmwcyle

Civil war in America?


40 posted on 02/11/2013 10:28:40 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Mercat
So will the Pope, by then former Pope, be a member of the conclave?

He will not; he is too old, by several years.

Even if that were not the case, I suspect (though the rules don't require it that I know of) that he would recuse himself.

41 posted on 02/11/2013 10:31:41 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Mercat
So will the Pope, by then former Pope, be a member of the conclave? I seem to remember that there is an age limit though. Any canonical scholars out there?

EWTN is rerunning a special from this morning with Michael Warsaw, the President of EWTN, Colin Donovan, a canon lawyer and Fr. Mitch Pacwa. they are calling the resignation an act of humility. They all agree that this decision, for now, raises more questions than there are answers. However, your question did arise and the general consensus is that, as head of the church, he can cast a vote but will probably leave this up to the cardinals. No precedent so we will have to wait and watch. The group also noted that the mainstream media will approach this with secular political lenses and spin the news to suit their agenda. EWTN is committed to providing factual news and we should attempt to draw our discussions from their coverage. I already saw that on the local news when a reporter referred to the pope as a "hardliner" and hopefully the next pope will be more attuned to contemporary times.

42 posted on 02/11/2013 10:49:59 AM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: Biggirl
Click here, think bigger
43 posted on 02/11/2013 10:54:52 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: bmwcyle

No, I simply refuse to put on a tinfoil hat. I’m sure yours is very nice though.


44 posted on 02/11/2013 11:02:48 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: goodwithagun

Where is the Bible does it talk about tin?


45 posted on 02/11/2013 11:09:32 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: bmwcyle

It’s right before the part about papal succession.


46 posted on 02/11/2013 11:17:53 AM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: goodwithagun

What verse?


47 posted on 02/11/2013 11:19:48 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: goodwithagun

Ignorance always throws the tin foil hat crap.


48 posted on 02/11/2013 12:22:10 PM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: bmwcyle

It’s certainly thrown you.


49 posted on 02/11/2013 1:11:35 PM PST by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: Morgana; Chode

Posted earlier today.


50 posted on 02/11/2013 2:03:52 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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