Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he will resign at the end of the month. The 85-year-old pontiff said he no longer has the energy to exercise his ministry over the universal church.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he will resign at the end of the month. The 85-year-old pontiff said he no longer has the energy to exercise his ministry over the universal church.

February 11, 2013
CAROL GLATZ AND
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Saying he no longer has the strength to exercise ministry over the universal church, Pope Benedict announced Feb. 11 that he will resign at the end of the month after an eight-year pontificate.

"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," the pope told cardinals gathered for an ordinary public consistory to approve the canonization of new saints.

Pope Benedict, who was elected in April 2005, will be the first pope to resign in more than 600 years.

He told the cardinals, "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 barque of St. 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."

Jesuit Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists at a briefing that the pope's decision was not prompted by any medical illness, but was due to a natural "decline of strength" associated with old age.

Even though the announcement had caught almost everybody by surprise, it was not a snap decision, but rather one that "had matured over the past few months," Lombardi said.

The pope made his announcement in Latin from a pre-written text during a morning ordinary public consistory where a large number of cardinals were present.

When he delivered his announcement, the pope seemed very "composed, concentrated" and read "in a solemn manner" in keeping with the importance of what he was saying, Lombardi said.

Fulfilling the canonical requirement, Pope Benedict solemnly declared to the cardinals, "Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of St. 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 St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."

It is up to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to make preparations for a conclave to elect a new pope.

Lombardi said after the pope steps down, he will move to the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. He will stay there until the renovation is completed of a cloister, set up by Blessed John Paul II, which is located inside the Vatican Gardens, he said.

The pope will then live in the cloister, called the Mater Ecclesia monastery, and dedicate his time to prayer and reflection, the Vatican spokesman said.