Q. 1. What does the "abdication of the Pope" mean?
A. 1. The "abdication of the Pope" means that the Pope renounces (steps down voluntarily) his function as the Bishop of Rome and as the reigning pope of the Roman Catholic Church. As a general rule, the reign of the Pope is from election until death. It is very uncommon for a Pope to renounce his function as the head of the Catholic Church.
Before the 21st century, only 5 popes resigned with historical certainty, all between the 10 th and 15 th centuries. There are disputed claims of four popes having resigned date between the 3 rd and 11 th centuries; a fifth disputed case may have involved an antipope.
On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was stepping down as the Head of the Catholic Church because of declining health due to old age. He was the first Pope to relinguish the office since Gregory XII in 1415 A.D.
It is honorable to see when a Pope knows his limits and resigns in order to allow a successor to take over the Throne of Saint Peter. With all respects for the title of Pope, it is a recorded fact in history that too many Popes were so old and sick for years that they became useless as rulers of the Catholic Church.