Update: The Pope’s full statement:
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.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
Listen to the Pope’s message at Radio Vaticana
For the first time in 600 years, a Pope is resigning from the Papacy. Pope Benedict has been Pope for eight years. He said he cannot physically do it.
The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415. He left for political reasons at the time. There was a schism which his resignation helped end.
Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is 85 years old and while he is mentally well, it is getting too difficult for him physically. Traveling is challenging and his doctor has advised him to halt international travel.
He has gradually slowed down.
He truly feels before God he does not have the strength to do the job. He has had a difficult couple years with a scandalous nun and a butler who released confidential Vatican documents. The sex abuse scandal hit the church just as he became Pope and he was charged with leading the church out of it.
He said “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 fulfillment of responsibilities as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
He will resign at 8 PM on February 28th.
He will live in a monastery on the Vatican grounds where he will read and pray. A nun currently lives there.
Rome will be without a Pope until March when the conclave will meet. Pope Benedict will have no say in selecting the next Pope. A new Pope is expected by Easter.
Years ago he wanted to go back to Germany but Pope John Paul II wouldn’t let him. He never wanted to become a Pope. He wanted to retire with his brother, also a priest. When Pope Benedict was elected Pope, his brother said he rolled over and went to sleep, he was very upset.
Pope Benedict was born on April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, the son of a police officer. He was ordained in 1951.
He was a liberal academic and theological adviser to the Second Vatican Council when he started out but became far more conservative over time. He soon moved up the ranks.
While working in the Vatican, he cracked down on liberation theology in Latin America and on liberal theologians in general. He declared the beliefs of the Catholic church as the true beliefs.
Within a year, he elevated more Cardinals than before, increasing the number of electable Cardinals to 120.