ASH WEDNESDAY Pope Benedict to remain at St. Peter’s rather than go to St. Sabina

Changes to the schedule.
A note about the Holy Father’s health.
The encyclical on faith will not be published.

From VIS:


Vatican City, 12 February 2013 (VIS) – Wednesday, 13 February at 5:00pm, the Holy Father will celebrate the rite of blessing and imposition of ashes in the Vatican Basilica, instead of the Roman Basilica of Santa Sabina, where the celebration is traditionally held. The reason, as Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, explained, is that, as this will be Benedict XVI’s last public concelebration, a large number of participants is expected.
For the same reason, the Pope’s annual meeting with the pastors of Rome, scheduled to take place on 14 February, will take place in the Paul VI Hall and will focus on?according to Fr. Lombardi’s information?Vatican Council II, as the Roman clergy requested. Also, in expectation of great numbers, Benedict XVI’s last general audience, scheduled for 27 February in the Paul VI Hall, will probably be moved to St. Peter’s Square.
“The Pope is well,” Fr. Lombardi said, “and his soul is serene. He did not resign the pontificate because he is ill but because of the fragility that comes with old age,” he affirmed, recalling that the pontiff, recently underwent an entirely routine procedure to replace the battery of the pacemaker he wears, [NB: The Pope has a pacemaker.] but that this had no impact on his decision. Likewise, Fr. Lombardi explained, the trip to Cuba and Mexico, due to his fatigue, was another reason in the development of Benedict XVI’s decision, but not its cause.
The director of the Press Office confirmed that the Pope’s calendar will continue as scheduled until 28 February, the last day of his pontificate, with ad limina visits from the Italian bishops, visits with the presidents of Romania and Guatemala, etc. However, the expected encyclical on Faith will not be published because the text still is not ready.

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  1. Imrahil says:

    However, the expected encyclical on Faith will not be published.


    I hope even though the Holy Father probably will not write anything anymore, he still finishs this one; and even though it has already been annouced that he will not publish anything anymore during his lifetime, he will have it published after his death (far away may this hour be).

  2. Imrahil says:

    Will there be any sort of ceremony on Feb 28?

    As has been noted, this would seem an obvious reason for the – otherwise non-intuitive – announced time of 8 p.m.

  3. acardnal says:

    I suspect the Apostolic Exhortation he was writing on the New Evangelization as a consequence of the Synod will not be published either. Unfortunate.

  4. bmadamsberry says:

    I think the fact that he won’t be finishing the encyclical, the Apostolic Exhortation, and the fact that it’s occurring during his beloved Year of Faith, all points to the fact that his health is probably much worse than the Vatican is letting on. There are a lot of programs, initiatives, and writings that are simply going to be left undone (if the next Pope chooses not to continue them) or will be done by someone other than the person/Pope who started them. I hope I’m wrong about his health, but the evidence seems to the contrary.

  5. Jeff says:

    On a lighter note, so much for #5 on your predictions huh? That’s okay, I predicted Pope Benedict would be the most followed on Twitter…don’t see that one happening now.

  6. anilwang says:

    I agree with bmadamsberry.

    There’s more to this. The Pope’s encyclical on faith was started but not completed and the expected booklet on reverent liturgy was also started but not released yet. Though I expect it will be released under the next Pope (e.g. pending work such as the New Roman Missal was started by Pope John Paul II was released under Pope Benedict XVI), unless the next Pope is a liturgical expert, it might not have as much force as it would under Pope Benedict XVI.

    I doesn’t make sense that he would cut short both efforts unless he was certain that he could not complete them, or he felt that the wolves had finally gotten to him and he needed to pass the staff for the protection of his sheep.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’m going to go into my mother’s mode here, since she’s not one to get on the Internet.

    He looks and sounds like he’s dying. He’ll probably start to look worse, then he’ll look better and people will hope, but that’s probably when he’ll die. God is full of surprises, but I don’t know if he’s going to be able to be like his predecessor and make it to Divine Mercy Sunday.

  8. Margaret says:

    I have a horrible feeling you are spot on, ‘Banshee. :(

  9. bookworm says:

    “He looks and sounds like he’s dying.”

    Yesterday I was thinking perhaps he had been diagnosed with a slow-motion degenerative condition like Parkinson’s (which his predecessor had) or Alzheimer’s. Now I wonder if it isn’t something much more short term. I have known people much younger and in better health who suddenly developed aggressive cancers and were dead within 3-6 months of diagnosis. I have also known people closer to his age, such as my own parents and in-laws, who went from relatively healthy to dead in a matter of weeks. Of course many prayers for him are in order no matter what “it” is.

  10. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I don’t think he “looks and sounds like he’s dying”, more as if it was particularly taxing to decide finally and then announce his resignation, on top of the constant ‘grind’ of his daily responsibilities!

    What, exactly, are the various possibilities with respect to written works-in-progress? For example, finished by him, but published by his sucessor? Or finished by him, but published as works of the Cardinal he will be rather than the Pontiff he was?

  11. Jenelle says:

    We are actually in Rome at the moment… can you believe it?! We are doing our own little Year of Faith pilgrimage… now this is even more memorable than ever. It has been such a shock and we are still taking this all in. I am sad but amazing at our Holy Father’s humility. I love him so dearly!

    We were lucky enough to get tickets for the small Mass at Santa Sabina, we picked up the tickets today. Still had Santa Sabina on the tickets etc. Then we just happened to drop in to the US Bishops Office where they mentioned that the Mass has been changed. This has been another shock! I can’t imagine what it is going to be like there now – the media throng at St Peter’s is large and they are basically camping out. Tomorrow we’ll be at the audience and the Mass – I’ll be sure to report back. We are so blessed to have this opportunity but our emotions are so mixed on this being his last Mass.

    God Bless!

  12. Geoffrey says:

    His Holiness the Pope will also be leaving 2 series of catecheses unfinished. He suspended his catechesis on Christian Prayer (the Sacred Liturgy) for the Year of Faith, devoting his weekly general audience to a series on the topic of faith. Presumably, he was going to resume the catechesis on prayer after the Year of Faith.

    Blessed John Paul the Great continued his predecessor’s series on the Christian virtues. Pope Benedict XVI continued his predecessor’s series on the psalms and canticles of Lauds and Vespers. What will Pope Benedict’s successor do?

  13. lisa says:

    My husband and I and our 2 small children were fortunate and blessed to be at the Ash Wednesday service last year at St Sabina, a beautiful, intimate service with the Pope in a gorgeous church
    We were in the minority as lay people in the audience of only a few hundred. I will never forget that day and our family has received untold graces and touched in unimaginable ways since then. I am so sad about our Holy Father and will keep him in our prayers.

  14. Rich says:

    I am disappointed the encyclical on faith will not be published. I have been looking forward to it for years, even before it was confirmed to be something the Holy Father was writing.

  15. Bryan Boyle says:

    While we may be sad about so many unfinished opera coming from the mighty intellect and pen of our Holy Father (long may he live in a well-deserved rest), perhaps the greatest example is that of his humble acknowledgment of his frailty and willingness to do what may have been unthinkable in full faith in God’s mercy and assistance.

    Just as JP-II gave us an example of accepting the suffering he was sent…so too Benedict is setting another example of ultimate trust in God’s providence.

    And is not that what faith ultimately is?

  16. wmeyer says:

    I don’t think I have seen it mentioned, but Pope Benedict’s resignation is remarkable for the example it gives of a man voluntarily turning away from a position of power. He is a model to us all.

  17. In browsing articles about this subject, I saw a notable observation: this conclave will be significantly different from what usually happens. The person making the argument contends that the cardinals are likely to flock to Rome by February 28–if, indeed, there is some final gathering, they will all want to be there. And he argued, they will stay around.

    That means the cardinals will all be in a position to be talking to each other much moreso, ahead of time, then they otherwise do. All this, of course, preceeded by two weeks’ notice.

    How will this affect the work of the conclave? I had thought that certain cardinals would be more likely to be chosen, because they are known quantities; but given this scenario–if it’s correct–then many more cardinals may be more known by the time the balloting starts.

    I have to assume that if you are a cardinal, and you take your responsibility seriously (how could you not?), you would be praying and thinking about what the Church needs. While that would be true anytime the pope is ailing, and the likelihood of a conclave becomes greater, this time there is no question if indelicacy or awkwardness about having that conversation.

    We live in interesting times!

  18. Apparently, this last public liturgical appearance of Pope Benedict will be broadcast live on EWTN at 10:30 am Wednesday (Feb. 12) and will be rebroadcast at 8 pm.

  19. acardnal says:

    Correction Henry Edwards: that is Wednesday, February 13, 10:30 EST.

  20. Blaise says:

    Fr Martin Fox – those Cardinals who are not curial have, in most instances, other jobs and they may not feel they can “hang around” for two weeks waiting for a conclave to start.

  21. Panterina says:

    I’m surprised to hear that the encyclical won’t be published.

    According to a source provided by Prof. Basto in a different thread (, “the Holy Father completed the encyclical during his summer vacation at Castel Gandolfo and is now making “finishing touches.”

    In the same article, some insiders who read the draft were very impressed by the content. It doesn’t seem fair: They got to read it and we can’t?

  22. Blaise:

    You have a point.

    On the other hand, I can see some of them finding reasons to hang around. After all, this doesn’t happen very often, and it is one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make.

    Another way to look at it: if the cardinals are all in town, the conclave has, informally, begun. More informal preliminaries might hasten the formal part–and when the conclave formally begins, they’re going to be nervous about the timing–so close to Holy Week.

  23. B.C.M. says:

    We are living in truly extraordinary times. Can I ask, without being banned or insulted or having my faith or loyalty questioned, whether anyone is incredibly hurt by this?

    I, for one, wept uncontrollably once the reality sunk in. And while it is extremely difficult and seems anathema to criticize one who has meant the world to me for so long… This hurts a great deal and I do not agree or approve.

    I am angry, hurt and disappointed. I will continue to pray for our Holy Father, and for understanding and peace.

  24. anilwang says:


    We don’t know all the details. We simply don’t.

    There are a few facts to consider:
    (1) He was in the inner circle Pope John Paul II during the declining years and knows what’s involved.
    (2) When the Pope was instated, he asked for prayers from the wolves
    (3) He payed tribute to Pope Celestine V immediately after being instated and left his pallium at the tomb.
    (4) He left several works such as his Encyclical on Faith which was almost done unpublished during the start of Year of Faith in the middle of Lent as well as the pending beatifications of Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul IV.

    However you parse all of these, it’s clear that the Pope knew what he was doing when he made his decision, he expected it might happen, and sudden nature of his departure indicates that he felt he need to leave before he wanted to.

    You have trusted Pope Benedict XVI until now and it’s clear that you love him. Trust him again and remember Matthew 16:18 .

  25. Ann Roth says:

    B.C.M., I don’t think you are the only one to feel that way. Read through the comments on the posts from yesterday and I think you will find others who feel as you do. I feel more sad and perhaps a little worried about what is next. We need to continue to pray. From the Pope Benedict’s inaugural homily:

    “My dear friends—at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love His flock more and more—in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.”

    We need to pray for him and for one another.

  26. Geoffrey says:


    You are not alone! It is a difficult time for many, myself included. I think Cardinal Dolan expressed it best when he used the phrase “mixed emotions”.

  27. wmeyer says:

    I am not hurt, angry, or disappointed. I am thankful for the wonderful leadership Pope Benedict provided, and am deeply appreciative of his willingness to turn away from power when he felt he could no longer do justice to the job. Most of all, I trust in the Holy Spirit, to guide our cardinals in the election of a new pope.

  28. HighMass says:

    A Note to B.C.M…..

    You said that you “wept uncontrollably once it sunk in” well as a matter of Fact….I think that applies to alot of us……….Loving this Holy Man of God is hard to put into words…..can’t say I am mad, don’t say that one really blames him….after what he Saw J.P.II the Great go through….and as someone on this blog said, we hope and pray that he is not seriously ill…but who knows???

    Truthfully the signs were there all along….maybe we just didn’t want to see or hear them…..
    Think about it….the most current thing, the consistitory of the Cardinals in November, 2012….today on Spirit Daily it said that The Holy Fathers Brother knew about this for months…..

    Pope Benedict, we LOVE YOU! and Thank You for all you have done for God and Man, and Of course the CHURCH! How unselfish of You….we pray that in the days that are ahead of you, that you find Peace. Will we miss YOU???? More than words can say…..better stop for know the tears are welling up in ones eyes again……


  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I think wmeyer has well spoken of “his willingness to turn away from power when he felt he could no longer do justice to the job.” “Ducet quo tu non vis” (John 21:18) comes to mind – in this case it being “Brother Ass” who so draws away, which one can imagine may have been, and be, agonizing to his willing heart.

  30. mpolo says:

    Perhaps the encyclical on faith will turn out similar to Pope Benedict’s first encyclical. It was widely suggested at the time (I don’t know if this was ever officially confirmed, though) that about half of that encyclical was based on notes/texts from John Paul II. The next Pope could well take Pope Benedict’s texts, add his own touches, and publish it under his own name.

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