The Pope takes his leave from the papacy, due to his advancing age and ailing health.
Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years. William Thorn, PhD, is associate professor of journalism at Marquette University. He’s been working with the Vatican since 1982, and was near the Pope as recently as December. “I was more than surprised, I was shocked. I had no inkling, nor did any of the people I know or any of the press I know in Rome, that any idea this was coming. Apparently he talked to no one about this except his brother George.”
His Holiness made the surprise resignation announcement early Monday morning, just days before Ash Wednesday. Pope Benedict is very Germanic, Thorn says, with a high sense of duty, but knows the limits of his health. Thorn says the Pope has severe arthritis in his knees and was told my his doctor he can’t fly, which is very important in this 21st century international job.
The Vatican believes it will have a new pope installed by Easter. “To have Easter without the pope I think would really be difficult.”
Popes generally die in office, but 85-year-old Benedict is the first pontiff to step down since Gregory XII in 1415. Benedict will resign February 28th. A conclave is expected to name the new pontiff before the end of March.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:22