Vatican sources say there will be a new Pope by Easter, which falls this year on March 31.
In an announcement that apparently came as a surprise even to his closest aides, Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday that he would step down at 8pm Vatican time on February 28. That makes him the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.
Vatican sources said that as the Pope has not died there is obviously no need for the traditional nine days of mourning, but there will be a Conclave to select a new pope.
The 85-year-old said he took the decision due to old age. In a statement delivered to the Vatican he said: “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.”
“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.”
No specific illness
The Vatican’s spokesman said Pope Benedict has no specific illness and his decision to resign was taken with no outside pressure.
Father Federico Lombardi explained that the Pope’s decision was not due to an illness but to a progressive decline in his strength which was normal in a man of his age.
“In the last few months he has seen a decline in vigour, both of the body and spirit,” Lombardi told reporters. “It was his personal decision taken with full freedom, which deserves maximum respect,” he added.
Lombardi said the Pope had not decided to resign because of “difficulties in the papacy” and the move had been a surprise, indicating that even his inner circle was unaware that he was about to quit.
The Pope does not fear schism in the Church after his resignation, the spokesman said.
Elected on April 19 2005 at the age of 78, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest men to take on the position in the history of the Catholic church.
He has had to oversee some of the most turbulent times for the Catholic Church in recent years, as a scandal was breaking about child sex abuse by priests.
He has also been at the centre of the so called “Vatileaks” scandal over the leaking of his private papers by his personal butler.
Pope Benedict has proved to be a divisive figure. While conservatives cheered him for getting back to traditional Catholic values, his critics accused him of turning back the clock on reforms by nearly half a century and damaging dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she fully respected German-born Pope Benedict’s decision to resign because of his frailty.
“If the Pope himself, after thorough reflection, has come to the conclusion that he doesn’t have the strength anymore to carry out his duties, then this has my utmost respect,” Merkel said in a brief statement at the Chancellery in Berlin. “He had to make a difficult decision.”
‘A heavy heart’
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual head of the global 80-million-strong Anglican Communion, said: “It was with a heavy heart but complete understanding that we learned this morning of Pope Benedict’s declaration of his decision to lay down the burden of ministry as Bishop of Rome, an office which he has held with great dignity, insight and courage.”
Welby said he gave thanks to God for Benedict’s life “utterly dedicated, in word and deed, in prayer and in costly service, to following Christ.”
To hear the Pope’s statement – in Latin – click on the link below
Source: Radio Vatican
- 1Einstein was right! Scientists confirm that gravitational waves exist
- 2Turkey threatens to unleash refugees on Europe
- 3Democratic nomination: Clinton crushes Sanders – thanks to “superdelegates”
- 4Russian aircraft strike ‘extremist’ targets in Syria’s Aleppo province
- 5Nigeria: suicide bomber turns herself in after recognising relatives among potential victims
- 1Turkey blames US for ‘sea of blood’ in region
- 2Einstein was right! Scientists confirm that gravitational waves exist
- 3Nigeria: suicide bomber turns herself in after recognising relatives among potential victims
- 4Snowden, Assange and Manning statues unveiled in Berlin
- 5World powers arrive in Munich hoping to resurrect Syrian peace talks
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2International news | euronews, latest international news
- 3Most Istanbul blast victims ‘were German’, says Turkey
- 4Partnering to grow Europe
- 5Madrid to appeal Catalan road to independence from Spain
- 6Thousands in Bucharest blame corruption for Friday’s nightclub blaze
- 7Hope vs harsh reality: challenges to global education goals in the 21st century
- 8Moldova: protesters storm Parliament
- 9Extras : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 10Merroussis clinches the 33rd Athens Authentic Marathon
- 11Norway sends Syrian refugees back to Russia
- 12‘National’ funeral for Celine Dion’s husband ‘over the top’
- 13International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 14Jorge Lorenzo clinches his third MotoGP title in Valencia
- 15latest Learning World - All Programmes | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 16Benzema questioned in French sex tape case
- 17Special Reports : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 18French language revolution in France
- 19Brussels remains on high alert: ‘multiple operations underway’ across Belgium
- 20world Weather | euronews: world ten day weather forecast
Latest world news
“Hail Caesar” brings Roman holiday mood to Berlin Film Festival opening
Egypt awaits its revolution five years after Mubarak
Major powers agree on truce in Syria “within a week”
Albert Einstein and the incredible discovery of gravitational waves
Slovenian researchers find brain link for Zika virus
Wires > News
- 08:11 CET Australian Cabinet minister resigns over unofficial China trip
- 07:10 CET Beijing offers support for Hong Kong after New Year violence
- 05:29 CET South Korea, U.S. to discuss missile defence; South cuts power to…
- 05:12 CET Venezuela top court grants Maduro economic emergency powers…
- 04:02 CET Britain says missing Hong Kong bookseller ‘involuntarily removed‘…
- 03:15 CET Oregon standoff ends after 41 days with dramatic surrender
- 02:26 CET Saudi warns U.N., aid workers to leave rebel-held areas in Yemen
- 01:26 CET U.S. Defense Department promises plan to defeat Islamic State