On Monday, in a move that came as an utter surprise to many, Pope Benedict announced his intention to resign from his post effective 28th February 2013. Though the Pope claimed waning strength as the reason to resign, a decision that has not been taken by any Pope since the Middle Ages, the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi claimed the Pope was not ill.
Father Lombardi told reporters that “In the last few months,” the Pope “has seen a decline in vigor, both of the body and spirit … It was his personal decision taken with full freedom, which deserves maximum respect.”
In the statement distributed by the Vatican containing the resignation announcement by the Pope, he says, “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.”
The statement of the Pope ended with these lines, “… 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.“