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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Feb 11, 2021

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

But the shock-waves from the Vatican reached around the world on February 11, 2013. Because that was also the day that Pope Benedict XVI said that “with full freedom I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome.”

The effect of the Pope’s resignation was truly electric. He made his announcement during what had been expected to be a routine consistory: a meeting of the cardinals present in Rome. The assembled prelates had come to the apostolic palace expecting to give their formal approval for three canonizations. Having dutifully carried out that business, they settled back to hear the Pope give a short talk. …