The Vatican is confused: Pope Benedict XVI, 85, has announced his abdication and plans to quit on Feb. 28, saying he is stepping down being too weak to fulfill his duties. A voluntary papal resignation is rare, especially in recent centuries so Russian experts discuss what will happen to the Roman Catholic world.
In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI became the 265th pope and was the oldest Pontiff elected since the late 18th century.In his resignation statement, Benedict said: “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” appearing at the ceremony of canonization of the martyrs of Otranto Monday.The Cardinals were caught by surprise with this announcement. Benedict XVI was the first pope to leave voluntarily in six centuries.The new Pontiff will be elected by a Conclave in the late March. Cardinals eligible to vote will be sequestered within Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy. Ballots are burned after each round. White smoke signals that cardinals have chosen pope.The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk voiced hope that Benedict’s successor will safeguard Christian values and contribute to the development of ties between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.