On Monday morning Pop Benedict announced that he will be resigning on February 28 because he no longer has the strength to fully perform the duties of his office.
This is the first time in 600 years a pope has taken such a step. The last pope to voluntarily resign was Pope Gregory XII on July 4, 1415. He resigned to end the Great Western Schism, during a time when multiple rival popes were vying for position.
The 85-year-old pope stated that he noticed his strength has been deteriorating over the previous months “to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
A statement released by the Vatican continued “Fot his reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.” Father Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, told reporters that a new pope could be elected by Easter, at the end of March.
Acccording to canon law, if a pope chooses to resign, no one has the authority to tell him he can’t.
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