Originally Posted by Bonnie
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.
The Vatican have been very quiet about Benedicts health issues...but I have noticed them. I remember when he stopped walking and started to be wheeled down the nave on a moving platform...then he had to take a rest between Mass and Urbi Et Orbi at Easter...and then he had to be carried up and down stairs during masses abroad by priests either side of him.
He looked ghaunt...and sometimes like he wasnt really there. Finally he began stumbling over his words during his speech a month or so ago. A lot of the perceptive people started to believe that he was on a physical decline. I, myself said that I didnt think he would make it to 2015 if his health didnt improve...
But none of us expected his resignation...we just expected him to get worse and worse until he ended up bed ridden and then dead. But now we dont think its the physical health...we think its the mental health...he specifically mentions mental strength, in his resignation...A few of us who observe him carefully believe that recently he may have been diagnosed with something like dementia or alzheimers...we think that he knows that he's got the early onset of something that could render him incapable, but not kill him for years...and he's fearful, after seeing JPII be unwell a while before death, that the Roman Curia advances over a weak Pope like ivy over a wall...and he wants to keep the Curia in his place...
The only way to stop this would be to remove himself somehow. Despositions simply dont happen these days, so he knows the chances of being assassinated are too small. He cant be exhiled by an invader, because that doesnt happen these days either...Short of committing suicide...how is he able to remove himself...So he has decided to resign...to fully remove himself, and to force the Curia to ellect someone else...so that they dont have the time to inch over papal soverignty between the onset of his illness, and his death, which could be years...imagine how far the curia could go if they temporarilly ran the Vatican for him, FOR YEARS...Would they, on his death, decide they didnt really need a new Pope? Would they refuse to give up some of the things they did for the Pope whilst he was away, thus shrink his office?
Thats what the latest thinking on his resignation is all about. It seems that whilst the Vatican, and the Papacy dont mind individuals on a council acting politically, as they will do now prior to the conclave...the papacy DOESNT like consensus in a council that could be as effective at asserting a will, as itself.
When there is an absence of Pope, the Administration declaires a Sede Vacante...litterly, "the Empty Chair" at that point the Vatican is run by someone called The Camerlengo who is chosen by the reigning Pope to be entrusted with running the Vatican in the case of an inter-regnum. This person is always a high ranking official within the Curia...in this case Cardinal Bertone is the Vatican Secretary of State.
Whats very interesting is that Ratzinger was never Camelengo to JPII but they bought someone out of retirement to perform that function, someone who by definition was too old to vote, or be ellected...this technically meant that Ratzinger could play at being Camelengo AND get ellected....I guess that he WOULD have been Camerlengo...but JPII was so ill, that when the former person who was charged with that role retired a year before his death, he was unable to appoint someone new to the role...THATS why Benedict conducted the Funeral of JPII. He was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...the part of the Roman Curia from which the Inquizition had been launched eons ago.
He seems to be a complete mixture...A political that got himself ellected, Yet as head of the Inquizition, increadibly merciful to priests who committed terrible crimes, In nature terribly Conservative...yet loved and served the most liberal of Popes since Vatican II...A power hungry German who declaired that he didnt care how low numbers of faithful dropped to, so long as they were true romans...sacrificed his own pontificate for the future preservation of the absolute when applied to his Office...a right paradox.