Pope Benedict XVI now has more than a week to remain in the seat of the Holy See. On February 28, the highest office of the Catholic Church will be declared vacant as Benedict leaves the Papacy after eight years. In March, one of the 117 cardinals will took the helm and succeed Peter.
|Pope Benedict XVI leading Sunday's Angelus (REUTERS)|
Benedict or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 24 years before he took over the Papacy. He became famous for his monikers “Cardinal No” and “God’s Rottweiler” for taking up firm stances involving Catholic teachings. He led efforts to crack down on religious pluralism and other challenging issues which have polarized the Church. Working closely with Pope John Paul II and heading the College of Cardinals by the time John Paul died, he was picked by his colleagues to take the seat of the Holy See. By then, he was 78.
Benedict, now 85, said he was no longer fit to lead the Church due to deteriorating “strength of mind and body”. He was the first Pope to resign in the modern times – 600 years after Pope Gregory XII stepped down. Some said Benedict had given premonitions of his resignation four years ago, when he left his pallium – a symbol of papal authority – on the tomb of Pope Celestine V. Celestine, in the 13th century, also bowed out from the Papacy.
|Faithful looking up the Saint Peter's Basilica during Sunday's Angelus (REUTERS)|