The Vatican announced on Monday that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning on February 28, which will make him the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. In a statement released by the Vatican, the Pope said he no longer had the strength to fulfill the duties of his office. He will be 86 on April 16.
FULL TEXT | Pope Benedict's resignation letterSource: Vatican Radio
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 2013BENEDICTUS PP XVI
Who will succeed Pope Benedict?The resignation of Pope Benedict means that cardinals from around the world will lock themselves in a secret conclave and elect the new pope from among themselves in votes in the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed that the College of Cardinals will meet to elect the next pope some time in March, according to CNN.
Here are the potential popes or "papabile" most frequently mentioned by different publications. The list is alphabetical, not in order of their chances.
- Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, 80, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, 70, Archbishop of Genoa
- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz of Brazil, 65, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 62, Archbishop of New York
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, 68, Head of the Congregation for Bishops
- Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy, 70, Head of the Pontifical Council for Culture
- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, 69, Head of the Vatican's office for Eastern Churches
- Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63, Archbishop of São Paulo
- Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, 67, Archbishop of Vienna
- Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71, Archbishop of Milan
- Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 55, Archbishop of Manila
- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran of France, 69, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
- Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, 64, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Source || Image: flickr.com, Michele Madalena Oliveira