In recent news it has been reported that has announced that he will resign as the head of the Catholic Church on 28 February 2013. The 85-year-old pontiff announced his decision in Latin on Monday morning, 11 February 2013, during a meeting of Vatican cardinals.
According to the associated press, the reason for the resignation, after only 8 years, cited by Pope Benedict XVI, is that he feels that he is “simply too infirm to carry on.” He emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires “both strength of mind and body.” He made the following statement:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he told the cardinals. “I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
He becomes the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years, although popes are allowed to resign as church law specifies only that the resignation be “freely made and properly manifested.” His decision to resign, however, sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a pope doesn’t have to be observed.
All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a pope has been elected.
“If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign,” Benedict said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly referred as the Mormon Church) also has an ecclesiastical leader whom members revere as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. The idea of a prophet being on the earth today, and especially during these desolate and turbulernt times in which we live, should not be a new concept to anyone. Scriptures clearly teach us that God, our Heavenly Father, is immovable and unchangeable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.
God has always had prophets on the earth. Throughout history, He has had chosen prophets, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others, to teach and preach the gospel, and to direct His Church. In the Holy Bible, in the Old Testament book of Amos, who was also a prophet of God, are recorded the words, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7.) If God called prophets in ancient times, would it not then make sense that He would call a man of God to be His prophet – His mouthpiece upon the earth – at this hour?
Joseph Smith (1805–1844) was the first prophet of our time. The current Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is 85-year-old Thomas Spencer Monson. He is the same age as Pope Benedict XVI. He has been the Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ for the past 5 years, since 3 February 2008, after the passing of former Prophet and President, Gordon B. Hinckley. He is assisted by two counselors—Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. Together, they make up the First Presidency of the Church. Just as God led the children of Israel out of slavery and bondage to a better land through His prophet Moses, today He leads His children into more happier, and more peaceful lives when they choose to follow His living prophet.
The Church News published an online message from President Thomas S. Monson on 1 February 2013 in which he personally reflects on five years of service as Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his message he also emphasized the need for members to go to the “rescue” of others. The following is an excerpt from his message:
This year will mark 50 years since I was called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I was 36 years old when that call came. Last August I celebrated my 85th birthday. Some of the senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve have a few years even on me. Age eventually takes its toll on all of us. However, we join our voices with King Benjamin, who said, as recorded in the second chapter of the book of Mosiah, “I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen … and consecrated by my father, … and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me” (Mosiah 2:11). Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the Church is in good hands. The system set up for the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve assures that it will always be in good hands and that, come what may, there is no need to worry or to fear. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we worship, and whom we serve, is ever at the helm.
The Head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He who has called Thomas S. Monson to be His prophet at this time. It is a calling from which he will not be released until the time of his death, the same as those who served as God’s prophets before him. Realizing the mantle that has been bestowed upon him by the Lord Himself, President Monson continues to look to Him as a source of constant strength to be able to do those things which he has been called to do. The idea of resigning from his calling is not something that he would ever consider, regardless of life’s circumstances. He is on the Lord’s errand and is determined to do the will of the Master.