Pope resigns in bombshell announcement, sending troubled church scrambling to replace him
VATICAN CITY (AP) — With a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope has done in more than half a millennium, stunning the world by announcing his resignation Monday and leaving the already troubled Catholic Church to replace the leader of its 1 billion followers by Easter.
Not even his closest associates had advance word of the news, a bombshell that he dropped during a routine meeting of Vatican cardinals. And with no clear favorites to succeed him, another surprise likely awaits when the cardinals elect Benedict's successor next month.
"Without doubt this is a historic moment," said Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, a protege and former theology student of Benedict's who is considered a papal contender. "Right now, 1.2 billion Catholics the world over are holding their breath."
The Feb. 28 resignation allows for a fast-track conclave to elect a new pope, since the traditional nine days of mourning that would follow a pope's death doesn't have to be observed. It also gives the 85-year-old Benedict great sway over the choice of his successor. Though he will not himself vote, he has hand-picked the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect his successor — to guarantee his conservative legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.
The resignation may mean that age will become less of a factor when electing a new pope, since candidates may no longer feel compelled to stay for life.
Inheriting a troubled church, Pope Benedict XVI stumbled trying to fulfill ambitious agenda
Pope Benedict XVI set clear and ambitious goals for his papacy quickly after he was elected: He hoped to re-evangelize the increasingly secular West. He would show that religious faith and reason could co-exist in the modern world. He would reach out to traditionalists who had split from the church and shore up Catholic identity.
He came into the papacy with the reputation of a brilliant theologian; nearly eight years later, he leaves the Holy See with that reputation intact. But because of burdens he inherited and ongoing problems in his own pontificate, Benedict fell short of the mark he set for himself on unifying the church, building relationships with other religions and restoring the church's influence in broader society.
A look at some aspects of his legacy:
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE: Benedict dedicated his pontificate to stemming the spread of secularism, especially in Europe, where church attendance has dwindled. He condemned same-sex marriage, argued that gender had become something chosen instead of given from God, and said lack of belief was dangerous, pointing to violence that resulted when past atheist governments "tried to stamp out the light of God to instead turn on illusory and misleading glows." Yet even as he made his arguments, acceptance of same-sex relationships grew throughout Europe and the United States.
RESTORING TRADITION: Benedict wanted to restore Catholic traditions largely abandoned during the modernizing changes of the Second Vatican Council. The pope relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass. He streamlined the process for traditional Anglicans who, objecting to ordaining women and gays in their own church, wanted to become Catholic. He even donned pontifical hats and other clothing that hadn't been worn in decades. Many younger Catholics responded to his emphasis on orthodoxy and a stronger sense of Catholic identity. But many others were alienated. In the United States alone, studies have found Catholics dropping out of the church in large numbers.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. BENEDICT'S AMBITIOUS AGENDA LARGELY UNFULFILLED
In many ways, the pope's nearly eight-year tenure fell far short, says AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll.
With world's largest Catholic population, Latin America wants a Latin pope, but odds are slim
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Latin America is home to the world's largest Roman Catholic population, but hopes that the next pope will come from the region appear faint, experts said Monday.
The predominance of Europeans on the College of Cardinals means that the odds are stacked against a Latin American pope, even though the names of a number of high-ranking churchmen from the region have been bandied about, analysts said. The 118-member college, with 62 European members and only 19 from Latin America, will elect a successor for Pope Benedict XVI, who announced Monday he will resign due to age.
Still, hope springs eternal.
"Since Latin America is a fortress for Christianity during these rough times, it would be healthy for us to get a Latin American pope," said Fernando Reyes, 57, a professional violinist, who prays daily at the La Merced church in Santiago, Chile.
Crossing himself before leaving the church, Reyes noted, "I would be proud. We've had Italian, Polish, German. It's time for a Latin American."
Obama to revive populist economic message in State of the Union, call for more tax revenue
WASHINGTON (AP) — Reviving his populist re-election message, President Barack Obama will press a politically-divided Congress to approve more tax increases and fewer spending cuts during a State of the Union address focused on stabilizing the middle class and repairing the still-wobbly economy.
The agenda Obama will outline Tuesday before a joint session of Congress will include more money for infrastructure, clean energy technologies and manufacturing jobs, as well as expanding access to early childhood education.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would outline "his plan to create jobs and grow the middle class" as the nation struggles with persistently high unemployment.
Some of Obama's job ideas will be repackaged versions of proposals he made during his first term, though aides say there will be some new initiatives, too. All of the economic proposals are expected to echo themes from Obama's re-election campaign, which focused on using increased spending to generate jobs, protecting programs to help the middle class, and bringing down the deficit in part by culling more tax revenue from the wealthiest Americans.
Obama has called for raising more revenue through closing tax breaks and loopholes, but he has not detailed a list of targets. He and his aides often mention as examples of unnecessary tax breaks a benefit for owners of private jets and tax subsidies for oil and gas companies. Such measures are modest, however. Ending the corporate plane and oil and gas breaks would generate about $43 billion in revenue over 10 years.
Earthquake detected in North Korea near nuclear test site; no word on if it's from nuke test
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — An earthquake was detected Tuesday in North Korea just north of a site where the country has conducted nuclear tests. Neither Pyongyang nor Seoul confirmed whether the tremor resulted from a widely anticipated third nuclear test, though an analyst in Seoul said a nuclear detonation was a "high possibility."
The South Korean Defense Ministry, which raised its military alert level after the quake, said it was trying to determine whether it was a test. Nuclear blasts can create tremors but they are distinct from those caused by natural earthquakes.
A U.N. nuclear test monitoring organization detected what it called an "unusual seismic event" in North Korea.
The U.S. Geological Survey as well as earthquake monitoring stations in South Korea detected an earthquake just north of a site where North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in 2009, according to the government-funded Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.
"There is a high possibility that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test," said Chi Heoncheol, an earthquake specialist at the institute. Chi said a magnitude 3.9 magnitude earthquake and a magnitude 4.5 earthquake were detected in the North's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
Military weighs cutbacks, shifts in drone programs to save money, face evolving threats
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AP) — The Pentagon for the first time is considering scaling back the massive buildup of drones it has overseen in the past few years, both to save money and to adapt to changing security threats and an increased focus on Asia as the Afghanistan war winds down.
Air Force leaders are saying the military may already have enough unmanned aircraft systems to wage the wars of the future. And the Pentagon's shift to Asia will require a new mix of drones and other aircraft because countries in that region are better able to detect unmanned versions and shoot them down.
If the Pentagon does slow the huge building and deployment program, which was ordered several years ago by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, it won't affect the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere against terror suspects. Those strikes were brought center stage last week during the confirmation hearing for White House counterterror chief John Brennan, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the CIA.
Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, said senior leaders are analyzing the military's drone needs and discussions are beginning. But he said the current number patrolling the skies overseas may already be more than the service can afford to maintain.
Overall, Pentagon spending on unmanned aircraft has jumped from $284 million in 2000 to nearly $4 billion in the past fiscal year, while the number of drones owned by the Pentagon has rocketed from less than 200 in 2002 to at least 7,500 now. The bulk of those drones are small, shoulder-launched Ravens owned by the Army.
Woman charged in Arizona killing of lover recalls beating, shows jurors injured finger
PHOENIX (AP) — A woman charged with killing her lover broke down in tears Monday as she described for jurors how her relationship with the victim included satisfying his "deviant" sexual urges and how he once beat her, kicked her in the ribs and broke her finger.
Jodi Arias, 32, has spent four days on the witness stand recounting her troubled childhood marred by abuse at the hands of her parents, a string of bad relationships, and how Travis Alexander belittled her, cheated on her, call her derogatory names and used her to fulfill his sexual fantasies.
Arias will return to the stand Tuesday for a fifth day of testimony. She faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in Alexander's 2008 killing.
Prosecutors claim she killed Alexander in a jealous rage, stabbing and slashing him 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head.
Arias says it was self-defense after initially telling authorities she wasn't there. She then blamed it on masked intruders. She now claims Alexander attacked her, forcing her to fight for her life.
Adventurers re-enact Shackleton's epic Antarctic voyage, eating salami rather than penguins
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — It's been lauded as one of the greatest survival stories of all-time.
Nearly 100 years later, a group of British and Australian adventurers have discovered why. They re-enacted Ernest Shackleton's journey to save his crew when their ship got stuck and sank in Antarctica's icy waters.
Tim Jarvis and Barry "Baz" Gray reached an old whaling station on remote South Georgia island Monday, 19 days after leaving Elephant Island. Just as Shackleton did in 1916, Jarvis and his team sailed 800 nautical miles (1,300 kilometers) across the Southern Ocean in a small lifeboat and then climbed over crevasse-filled mountains in South Georgia.
The modern-day team of six used similar equipment and clothes. But the harsh conditions forced several of them to abandon their attempt along the way.
"It was epic, really epic, and we've arrived here against the odds," Jarvis told his project manager Kim McKay after reaching the station, adding that "we had more than 20 crevasse falls up to our knees and Baz fell into a crevasse up to his armpits."
The do's and don'ts of Westminster: Primping pooches without PEDs (performance-enhanced dogs)
NEW YORK (AP) — Scissors, blow dryers, bobby pins — they're as much a part of the Westminster dog show as commands, crates and treats.
Take Sophie, for example. With perfectly trimmed pompoms and fluffed out fur, she's the very essence of poodle pulchritude.
What Westminster won't tolerate, though, are PEDs — performance-enhanced dogs.
That means no tattooing a boxer's nose to make it more black, no braces for a pointer to straighten its teeth, no removing a basset hound's inner eyelid to improve its appearance.
"It goes against the spirit of showing dogs in their appropriate state," Westminster President Sean McCarthy said Monday, the opening of the two-day show.