Citing health reasons due to advanced aging, the Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict XVI will be resigning his position on February 28, 2013. The last papal resignation to occur was done by Gregory XII (pope from 1405 to 1415). Some are speculating Pope Benedict’s resignation could be due to other reasons or that his health is in a worse condition than what has been stated.
In previous years, Pope Benedict has said that if he was not strong enough to carry on as the leader of the Catholic Church, then he would consider resigning. Georg Ratzinger, the pope’s brother, stated his walking has become increasingly more difficult and doctors had advised him to limit travel.
In a statement to the cardinals, Pope Benedict stated, “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.”
The pope has been noted for his humility, which is evident in the manner in which the resignation announcement came; it was given at a low-key meeting of Vatican cardinals.
An election (conclave) will be held mid to end of March to select the next pope. Several possible successors include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada. Pope Benedict will not be able to vote for his successor in the conclave because he is over the age of 80.