Pope to resign Feb 28, says spokesman

Rappler.com
(2nd UPDATE) Pope Benedict XVI announces he will resign due to health reasons. The Vatican expects a new pope to be elected before Easter.

STEPPING DOWN. Pope Benedict XVI will resign from the papacy on February 28, Vatican's spokesman says. File photo from AFP

VATICAN CITY (2nd UPDATE) – Pope Benedict XVI on Monday, February 11, announced he will resign on February 28, a Vatican spokesman told AFP, which will make him the first pope to do so in centuries.

“The Pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on February 28,” said the spokesman, Federico Lombardi.

In a message, the Pope cited health reasons for stepping down. “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.

The Pope added he has recognized his “incapacity to adequately fulfill” the ministry entrusted to him. 

“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 April 19, 2005, in such a way, that as from February 28, 2013, at 8 pm, 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,” he explained.

Lombardi on Monday said the Vatican expects a new pope to be elected next month. “We should have a new pope for Easter,” Lombardi told reporters, saying a conclave could be held within 15 or 20 days of the resignation.

Below is the full text of Benedict XVI’s resignation letter:

Dear Brothers,

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

 – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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