According to a Vatican spokesman, Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation on Feburary 28, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI has been the head of the Roman Catholic Church since May 7, 2005.
The head of the Roman Catholic church, Pope Benedict XVI will be resigning as the head of the Roman Catholic church on February 28, 2013. Josef Ratzinger, a native of Bavaria took the helm of the Vatican state and the Roman Catholic church on May 7, 2005.
A spokesman of the Vatican announced the Pope's statement in Latin,during a bishop's meeting.
"I am full aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I announce the resignation as the Bishop of Rome on February 28, 2013."
The Pope stated that he is no longer to perform his function and in an unexpected development said he is too old. The papal seat will remain vacant until a successor is chosen.
CBC News reports, that the Pope gave his deteriorating health as the reason for his announcement. A statement on the Vatican Radio website read:
"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," the Pope said.
Benedict said his strength, over 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."
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is quoted as saying that he is greatly shaken by the news. A German government spokesperson said he was moved and touched by the resignation announcement.
"He has left a very personal signature as a thinker at the head of the Church, and also as a shepherd."The State Department put out a statement praising the Pope's leadership and the ministry of 1.2 billion Catholics.
The United States is grateful to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for his leadership of and ministry to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. He has been a man of action and principle, working to promote human rights and dignity in places around the globe where they are too often denied, and a voice of clarity and conviction about our obligations as stewards of a fragile planet. As I heard Pope Benedict say during the Mass he celebrated in Washington nearly five years ago, Americans remain a people of hope and America a land of freedom and opportunity. He believes, as we do, that the qualities that have made our nation strong can also help make the world freer and more just. We have been honored to work with the Holy See during the nearly eight years of his papacy and look forward to continued collaboration in areas of common interest to our nation and to the Catholic Church. We wish Pope Benedict great peace and health and we will keep him in our prayers.
The replacement of a Pope normally occurs after his death. The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII (1406-1415)
The process of choosing a new Pope will begin in March according to the Vatican.