Pope Benedict Announces Resignation, Cites Health Issues
In a surprise announcement, Pope Benedict the 16th announces he will resign in just a few weeks on February 28th. He's going into retirement.
The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning. He's the first pope in almost 600 years to step down.
He emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope - the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide - requires "both strength of mind and body."
"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 told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by 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 St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary - strengths 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."
Pope benedict was confirmed in April 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul the 2nd.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.