Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced Monday, February 11, that he would resign on February 28 because he was too infirm to carry on -- the first pontiff to do so in almost 600 years. The Pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of cardinals on Monday morning.
As the duties of being Pope "requires both strength of mind and body," Benedict explained, "I have come to the certainty that my strength, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise" of the papacy. This is not surprising, considering that when Pope Benedict was elected Pope, he was already past the average retirement age of a priest
Since the Pope is still alive, there is, essentially, no "rush" to convene a conclave and vote in a new Pope. Speculations and rumors about the next Pope have already begun, however. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has already been suggested as a candidate.
Cardinal Dolan, within minutes of the resignation announcement, released his own statement on the matter.
The occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s world.
In replying to questions about being a candidate for pope, Cardinal Dolan said it would be "highly improbable" for him to be considered for the papacy. But joking with a reporter, he asked, "Is that why you're kneeling?"