Originally Posted by Tyburn
I didnt know a Pope was able to resign! apparently in their entire History, the Papacy in Rome (not to be confused with Rival Popes of Byzantia) has only faced this problem twice.
1415, Pope Gregory was deposed by his own Cardinals and forced out of office. He was exhiled, but it was against his will and they did not replace him until he died. So never was two Roman Popes Reigning at once.
Before that there is signs that Celestine V resigned. Boniface was so angry with Celestine for his resignation, he captured him by force and locked him up to Keep him in Rome...he wasnt Consecrated until Celestine died in captivity (though that was within the year, and some suspect Murder to help Celestine on his way)
But Bertone...who is the chief Cardinal, and technically incharge in the absence of a Pope...he's current Vatican head of State I think...says he's pressing for a more immediate conclave....The ellection of a new pope BEFORE the death of the old one hasnt ever happened I dont think.
I knew something was up with Benedicts health, he's been going down hill for over a year...BUT I knew something was a foot the day before yesterday, Saint Peters Basillica celebrated a Mass to celebrate the Order of Malta...and the President was NOT Benedict, but Bertone...I was wondering why that was
From what they are reporting, a lot of people within the Catholic organization were taken by surprise and shocked by this announcement. I was shocked when I heard about it; I've never heard of this being done before. But, maybe like you say, he knows he can no longer carry out his duties, and he's trying to give them a little more time to pick his successor.