VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI announced he will resign on Feb. 28 because he is simply too infirm to carry on — the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.
He emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires “both strength of mind and body.”
“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,” he told the cardinals. “I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.
Pope Benedict XVI has publicly mentioned the possibility of his resignation for some time. While the actual announcement came as a shock, it was not completely unexpected. Clearly he feels that someone else in sound health needs to lead the Catholic church during these trying times.
What is particularly intriguing at this point, is who will be the pope's successor?
An ancient prophecy attributed to St. Malachy, suggests that Benedict "Gloria Olivae" (The Glory of the Olive) could be the second last pope!
The last pope listed in the prophesy is Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman).