The London Telegraph
Pope Benedict XVI has announced he will resign on February 28th, saying he no longer had the strength to fulfill the duties of his office. The 85-year-old Pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning.
"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 spiriual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.
Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi said: "The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00pm on February 28."
The announcement was "a bolt from the blue", said Angelo Sodano, a senior Vatican cardinal. The news apparently came as a surprise, even to the Pope's close aides.
Greg Burke, another Vatican spokesman, told The Daily Telegraph there would be a new Pope by Easter. "We can expect a new Pope by Easter, which this year falls on March 31," he said.
"Becasue the Pope has not died there is no need for the traditional nine days of mourning, but there will be a Conclave (a meeting of Cardinals to select the new Pope)"...
The pontiff steered the Catholic church for eight years after being chosen to succeed John Paul II in April 2005.
Since reportedly suffering a stroke in 1991, Benedict has suffered a series of health scares. In November 2006, it was reported that he had a routine heart examination. In July 2009, he was hospitalised after falling and breaking his wrist in the Alps.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of France revealed that the Pope has long suffered a heart condition and has been taking medication since his initial stroke.
Early in his pontificate, Benedict himself predicted that he would have a short papacy because of his health.
The last time a pope resigned was in 1415. Pope Gregory XII did so to end the Western Schism, at a time when there were three claimants to the papacy. Before resigning, Gregory convened a council and authorised it to elect his successor...
Last year the Pope started using a cane on occasions and recently he appeared to have trouble reading the text of an address he delivered in Rome.
In November last year, he declared that it is "beautiful to be old".
"The quality of a society, I'd say of a civilisation, is judged by how well it treats its elderly," the 85-year-old pontiff said during the visit to the home run by the Saint Egidio Community, a Catholic charity.
While it was "beautiful to be old", age brought challenges and difficulties with which he himself was familiar.
"I know well the difficulties, the problems and the limits of this age, and I know that these difficulties are aggravated for many people by the economic crisis," the Pope said.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/11/2013
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