Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month for health reasons.
pope announced his decision during a meeting of Vatican cardinals this
He is the first pope to resign in over 600 years.
The pope told the cardinals that, due to his age, he no longer had the
strength to fulfill the duties of his office. He is to leave the post on
"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," he said.
"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...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
His declaration to the cardinals continued: "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."
A conclave of the
church's cardinals will now be called in Rome to select a new pope,
Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedettini told Bloomberg. There are several
papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner as was the
case when Benedict was elected pontiff.
The 85-year-old, Joseph Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II.
was the oldest man to be named pope since Clement XII, who was also 78
when he was elected in 1730. He was the first German pope since Victor
His election was one of the fastest in many years:
Pope Pius XII was elected in 1939 in three ballots on one day, while
Pope John Paul I was elected in 1978 in four ballots in one day.
Benedict XVI was elected after balloting of cardinals over two days.
Born in Bavaria on April 16th, 1927, was a liberal theological adviser
at the Second Vatican Council but became a conservative after the 1968
student movement prompted him to defend the faith against secularism.
He was archbishop of Munich before taking over the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 as the Roman Catholic Church's chief
In that position, he has disciplined church dissidents and
upheld church policy against attempts by liberals for reforms.