Recognizing his own human frailty, the Holy Father has, of his own accord, decided to resign the Papacy as of 7pm February 28th. His statement follows:
Dear Brothers,BENEDICTUS PP XVI
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
Above all we should have gratitude in our hearts. Gratitude to God for his continued guidance of the church, and of course, gratitude to Pope Benedict for his many years of ministry in leading the Church of Christ. This is a decision of tremendous self-knowledge and trust, and above all, courage.
Many questions remain, but they will be answered in time. The few answers that are know as of this writing – The Holy Father (title?) will remove himself on feb. 28th to Castel Gandalfo while a monastery in the Vatican is completed. Pope Benedict is teaching us once again by his example, offering a life dedicated completely to God in prayer.
A conclave of the 114 eligible Cardinals will be set to be convened in March, with a new Holy Father by the end of March. Together, let us all place the Cardinal-Electors in the hands of the Blessed mother who protects and loves us.
Here below, the video of the Holy Father making his announcement, in Latin.