Not out of an appropriate sense of shame, but because his health is failing, he will become the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages.
ROME — Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he will step aside as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on Feb. 28, saying he no longer has the strength to carry out his duties.
Speaking in Latin, the 85-year-old announced his decision during an address at the “Concistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto”, a small event held early in the morning.
The decision makes him the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages.
His statement was posted on the Vatican Radio website. Carrying out the duties of being pope required “both strength of mind and body,” it said.
NBC New Vatican analyst George Weigel gives his thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation, and explains how a new pope will be selected.
“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,” the pontiff’s statement said.