Pope announces he will be stepping down as of February 28
February 11, 2013. (Romereports.com) The Pope is unable to continue. He made the announcement today to the cardinals gathered in Rome. On February 28 at 8 p.m. Benedict XVI will no longer be Pope. That date will kick off the sede vacante, or vacant seat. According to canon law, within 20 days the cardinals must meet in conclave to elect the new Pope.
In the Vatican statement the Pope read in Latin to his cardinals, he explained that, “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.”
His resignation is a rare occasion for the Catholic Church, as only three other Popes have resigned in their time, Celestine V, Clement I and Gregory XII.
Starting at 8 p.m. on the last day of February, all posts within the Vatican will remain vacant until a new Pope is elected, with exception of the Camerlengo, the Major Penitentiary and the Vicar of Rome. The new Pontiff will be the one to canonize new saints on May 12, attend the World Youth Day in Brazil, and guide the Church through the remaining Year of Faith.