Pope Benedict XVI will become the first pope since the middle ages to resign his office when he steps down later this month.
The Vatican announced Monday, the 85-year-old Pontiff, spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has decided to relinquish the office he has held since 2005 due to deteriorating health.
The papacy is an office, which, once attainted, is held for life. However, there have been rare occasions when a pope has resigned. The last time was in 1415.
“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 Holy Father wrote in a statement which has now been translated.
“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.”
Read the full text of the pope’s statement from the Diocese of St. Catharines website: www.saintcd.com/news-and-events/130-news/3005-pope-benedict-xvi-announces-his-abdication.html