Tomorrow is an historic event in world Christianity. The first pope in six hundred years is resigning. A papal resignation (renuntiatio) occurs when the current pope of the Roman Catholic Church voluntarily steps down from his position. The reign of the pope has traditionally been from election until death, papal resignation is very unusual; only five popes have resigned. There are disputed claims of four popes having resigned between the 3rd and 11th centuries.
On 11 February 2013, Benedict XVI announced his resignation, which is set to take effect on February 28, 2013, 8.00 pm making him the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Gregory was chosen at Rome in 1406 by a conclave consisting of only fifteen cardinals under the express condition that, should “Antipope” Benedict XIII, a rival pope, renounce all claim to the Papacy, he would also renounce his, so that a fresh election could be held and the Western Schism (church division) ended. Very different circumstances than today. It’s all quite interesting.
For a traditionalist, Benedict XVI, is doing something thoroughly modern, retiring and tweeting about it. Pray that an air of modern ecumenism be ushered in with the election of a new pope. We have seen the openness of John XXIII disintegrate since his death on 1963. It’s time for a change that could embrace all of Christendom. This would be historic for all Christian people and all denominations.