Note to the news media: Pope Benedict has abdicated rather than resigned

In the interest of precise language, we note here that papal biographer and Catholic intellectual George Weigel said THIS in an interview on NBC this morning,

Pope Benedict XVI has said on numerous public occasions including his most recent interview book that were he to come to the judgment that he did not have the physical stamina left to give the church the leadership it deserved, that he would abdicate.

I think that is frankly the word in this occasion. A resignation is something that someone hands to someone else. Popes have no one to resign to, so this is an abdication. He has said that he would consider this. I am sure that he considered it thoughtfully and prayerfully.



  1. Evan Johnstone

    The word I prefer is retirement. He has retired from the Papacy.

    Although if he were to slip into another senior role, it would be more like a resignation from the papal role.

  2. Luke Fredrickson

    I hope Scalia is taking notes…

  3. Luke Fredrickson

    VATICAN —Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world for the second time in twenty-four hours today by announcing his decision to come out of retirement.

    “I thought I was getting too old for this,” the Pope explained via his Twitter account, “but I’ve still got plenty left in the tank.”

    The Pope’s abrupt unretirement left many fans wondering if his original decision was little more than a publicity stunt, but according to one Vatican source, “The situation was a lot more complicated than people know.”

    “The Vatican doesn’t make resigning your job as Pope an easy thing to do,” the source said. “In his exit interview, they told him he would have to agree not to sign with another organized religion for three years. Plus, he was going to have to give his 1.5 million Twitter followers back to the Church. The Twitter thing was the deal-breaker.”

    For his part, the newly unretired Pope took to his Twitter feed to announce his return in a nonchalant way: “So it turns out I’m not infallible. #FTW.”


  4. It’s like the Mafia you can never quit.

  5. Patricia Holtke

    I am hoping that the documents taken by the former butler reveal what needs to be revealed about the Catholic church. The cover-ups, lies, and protection of the priests who have abused children are so sickening. I can’t believe that anyone who loves and cared about children would stay with the Catholic church. The Catholic church is a very unhealthy entity and is seriously in need of shaking up, prayers, repentance, and reflection of how to truly serve the Lord.

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