11 February 2013
Pope Benedict XVI uses a handrail as he walks down stairs of the main altar after giving a talk in St. Peter’s Basilica at the conclusion of a Mass for the Knights of Malta on 9 February.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he will resign the papal office on 28 February. The text of his announcement is below.
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
There is a recording of the Holy Father making the announcement today in Latin at the Vatican news site.
CNS has additional details:
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,” Father 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, Father 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.
Father 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.
It was likely the pope would keep writing, he added, since the pope has mentioned many times that he has wanted to spend more time dedicated to study and prayer.
When asked if there would be any confusion over leadership or a schism were a possibility, Father Lombardi said he believes the pope “had no fear of this” happening because he clearly demonstrated his desire to step down and no longer be pope or retain any papal authority.
There is additional context from Rome Reports in the video below, explaining what happens next.