From my priest friend in Rome:
A little question and answer about the Pope's resignation.
Yes, I am sad; I love Benedict XVI dearly.
Has this ever happened before?
Yes, in 1415, Pope Gregory XII resigned from Office to end the Western Schism.
Can the Pope still do this?
Yes, canon 332 of the Code of Canon Law foresees a papal resignation:
"If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone."
Did the Pope do this publicly and freely?
Yes, he did it publicly this morning at an ordinary gathering of Cardinals. He did it freely, according to his words: "For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."
What happens next?
There will be a conclave a few weeks after Pope Benedict's resignation on February 28th to elect a new Bishop of Rome who will be the 265th successor of Saint Peter and the 266th Bishop of Rome.
Is the world going to end!? :)
No, the world will not end, unless Jesus comes again which could happen in five minutes, five days, five years, five hundred years or five million years...
Are you worried about the future of the Church?
No, the Church is Jesus' Body and He is risen from the dead! The Church shares in this imperishable life of Jesus and despite human frailty, sinfulness and the difficulties through which the Church passes, the Church is the Lord's! Pope Benedict XVI said this just three days ago to Roman seminarians: "There is a false pessimism that says: the time of Christianity is over. No: it begins anew! We can be sure that the future is truly God's: this is the great certainty of our life, the great and true optimism that we know."
What should I do now?
The same thing you should always do: pray and love. Let us pray for Pope Benedict in a special way during these days.
V. Let us pray for N, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]
- Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
-O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant N, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Father Ted Martin