Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope with a Twitter account, but when it came time to deliver the news of his impending resignation he opted for a much slower moving (and more character-filled) method of delivery: Latin.
After the pope finished reading his statement to a meeting of cardinals who had gathered at the Vatican on other Church business, it was up to the Vatican’s PR wing to translate the message and fill in a global press corps on what was said and what would happen next. At least one Italian reporter, however, got the jump on everyone else thanks to the fact that she was apparently paying attention back in high school:
Meanwhile, the pope has yet to make any mention of his decision to step down on his official Twitter feed, which boasts more than 1.5 million followers. When the soon-to-be former pope offered up his first tweet back in December, the church hailed the move as a major step toward using the latest technology to spread the faith. Since then, however, the pope and his Twitter staff have sent out less than three dozen tweets from his personal account.
For those of us who opted to study a living language back in our school days, here’s the official translation of the pope’s announcement:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. 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. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with 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 bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength 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. 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.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.