Pope Benedict has announced his resignation as Pontiff at the end of the month citing his old age and inability to carry out his papal duties as the main reason. It will naturally start a great amount of speculation of who will be voted in by the cardinals as his successor in the coming weeks. Joseph Ratzinger to give the Pope his real name has been the leader of the Catholic Church since he was elected in 2005 following the death of his predecessor Pope John Paul II.
This shock announcement comes as Benedict's natal Saturn is receiving a host of aspects, a square from the Moon, as well as from Mercury, Mars and Neptune, a trine from Uranus and an opposition from Jupiter. The trine from Uranus shows an unexpected and yet easy decision for him to move on from his current work to new things – that of retirement. Uranus via Aquarius rules his 12th house of hidden issues and is currently moving in his 1st house of the physical body and the self, making his health rather unpredictable and he will be feeling this. Uranus in the 1st house also needs personal freedom, and he may feel that being Pope is restricting his life more than he would like to admit.
The multi-square is also operating out of this hidden 12th house and indicates motivation (Mars) to make an emotional (Moon) announcement (Mercury) because of his failing health (Neptune square Saturn). This would only become worse in the next few months as this square between these two outer planets tightened. The Pope’s Saturn sits at 6:56 Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces will in the next couple of years make an exact square to this position. He will be feeling the effects already in the approach phase and at 85 years of age, his health is unlikely to radically improve.
Jupiter opposite to his natal Saturn may have indicated to him that he was now unable to carry out his international, theological and faith based (Jupiter) commitments (Saturn) to his satisfaction and he knew that now was the time to hand the baton to a younger generation. Jupiter rules his Midheaven or career status, and aging (Saturn) was hampering his ability to work. Saturn has now just entered his 8th house of change and death, and one can understand if he is starting to feel his mortality. Transiting Pluto which rules this same 8th house is also starting to close in on a natal opposition to his own Pluto at 13:51 degrees Cancer, an aspect which will be close to exact in just over a year’s time and one that will change his perspectives and most probably his life forever.
In the light of these upcoming aspects, I can see why the Pope has made his decision. The Catholic Church does need an energetic person leading it these days, as the tone of the position changed with John Paul II who took the Church to the peoples of the world. With the far more international nature of the position and with Africa and South America two of the hotbeds of the Catholic faith now, the requirement of the Pope to travel extensively across the world to properly represent and meet the faithful has increased. If Pope Benedict no longer believes that he has the energy and physical ability to do this, then it’s best for someone who is more able to take over…