Editor's Notebook — Pope Benedict speaks out, Pope Francis General Audience, human trafficking, Vatican secrets and a snow-loving bird In a letter written to an Italian journalist, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called speculation that he was forced to retire "simply absurd."

"There isn't the slightest doubt about the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry," Pope Benedict wrote. "The only condition for the validity is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculations about the invalidity of my resignation are simply absurd."

A Ukrainian archbishop sees a lingering threat of war, but also these signs of hope

From Pope Francis' general audience: he speaks on the sacrament of the anointing of the sick — something Orthodox priests in Ukraine, unfortunately, spent much time on last week

A second international human trafficking conference has been scheduled — and soon. 

At First Things, Elizabeth Scalia weighs in on the debate: Would Jesus bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple? 

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Pope Benedict's final day as pontiff, there's a lot out there looking back at his resignation and the effect his decision had on the Church, and what Religion News Service calls his "afterlife."

For those of you who watched PBS' "Secrets of the Vatican" last night, there's been lots of buzz this morning. Deacon Greg Kandra has compiled much of the Catholic reaction, including that of former Catholic News Service Rome Bureau chief John Thavis. 

Finally, as arctic air once again dominates and another snow-producing snow system develops off the West coast, Catholic schools in Arkansas are considering combatting severe weather with "cyber days."

And here's a video that might help with the winter doldrums.

Be sure to check out OSV.com later this afternoon as we post content from our March 9 issue — a special issue celebrating Pope Francis' first year as successor of Peter.