Pope Benedict XVI will resign on Feb. 28. says the Vatican.
According to the Associated Press, the Vatican says that Pope Benedict XVI will be resigning on Feb. 28 due to health concerns.
The 85-year-old pope is the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.
The Vatican is set to elect a new pope before the end of March.
Pope Benedict says that being pope and leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics wordwide requires “both strength of mind and body.”
“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 spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by 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 barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary strengths 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.”
There are several contenders to the position of pope. But at this time, there are no clear front-runners.
Benedict’s possible successors include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops.
During the selection of a pope, all cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote. The meeting is held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots.
The ballots are then burned after each voting round. Black smoke that comes out of the chimney means a pope has not beet chosen. If it is white smoke that comes out then a pope has been elected.