Monday, February 11, 2013

5 +++ Benedict Bows Out: Vatican Confirms That Pope Will Step Down

Pope Benedict XVI stated that he is 
"fully aware of the gravity of this gesture."
In a surprise development, the Vatican confirmed Monday that Pope Benedict XVI will step down later this month. He is only the second pope in the Vatican's history to do so.
The Vatican on Monday confirmed reports published by respected Italian media that Pope Benedict XVI of Germany would step down from his position on Feb. 28. 

In a statement, the pope, who is 85 years old, said his old age was his reason for abdicating the papacy. "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." Pope Benedict also said he was "well aware of the seriousness of this act. After leaving the Catholic Church's highest position, Benedict said he wished to "devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. "In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, honored Benedict XVI for his life in the church. "The German government has the utmost respect for the Holy Father, for his work, for his life's work in the Catholic Church." He thanked Benedict for his eight years of service as the world's top Catholic official. Seibert said Merkel would make a statement about the pope herself later on Monday. The fact that the current pope originates from Germany has been a source of considerable pride for many Germans since Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, since his appointment on April 24, 2005. After his selection as the church's leader, the tabloid daily Bild famously ran the words "Wir sind Papst!," or "We're the pope," on its front cover.Benedict is the first pope to resign since Celestine V., who voluntarily abdicated the papacy just months after he became the leader of the Catholic Church in 1294.

Check SPIEGEL ONLINE International later today for complete coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.
dsl -- with wires

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