CHIAVARI, Italy – One of the big news stories this week was Pope Benedict XVI announcing his retirement and moving his residency to Castel Gandolfo, in the Castelli Romani about 15 miles south of Rome. Who knew popes could retire?
|Pope Benedict XVI Resigns (AP L'Ossavatore Romana)|
The first pope to resign was Pope St. Pontian. He had been elected as the Successor of St. Peter on July 21, 230. His resignation came about after he was arrested and jailed in a dispute over church policy with the Roman Emperor Maximinus I Thrax. He was exiled to Sardinia and condemned to work in the salt mines there until his death. In order to not deprive the church of a leader, he resigned and a new pope, St. Anteros, was elected.
Pope St. Martin I, who was consecrated pope in July 649, found himself in a similar situation. He also opposed the Byzantine Emperor's attempt to appoint heretical bishops and was kidnapped, taken to Constantinople, deposed, condemned and exiled. He died in the Crimea on September 16, 656, of ill-treatment and neglect. In all fairness, the ill-treatment and neglect was probably a common, pervasive condition at the prison more than specifically aimed at Pope St. Martin I.
|Inside the Vatican|
It was Benedict’s godfather, the priest John Gratian, who paid Benedict to resign the papacy in 1045. Gratian then stepped into the vacancy becoming Pope Gregory VI. Benedict claimed he had resigned in order to marry, but a year later, when the marriage never happened, he returned to Rome and reclaimed his right to the papal throne.
|A Papal Encounter of the Spiritual Kind|
When Henry III arrived, Gregory VI was convinced to stand before a council of fellow church leaders. The bishops urged him to resign for bribing his way into office. Even though he claimed he had done nothing wrong in buying the papacy, the bishops managed to convince Gregory VI to step down.
|Pope Benedict XVI|
Pope Benedict XVI was elected Pope at the age of 78 and is the oldest person to have been elected Pope since Pope Clement XII (1730–40). Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger's papacy began in 2005 and will end on February 28, 2013.