Pope Benedict XVI resigned Monday due to deteriorating strength.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on December 25, 2012. Pope Benedict announced his resignation February 11, 2013. (File/UPI/Stefano Spaziani)
Without any public speculation or warning, Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will resign as Supreme Pontiff at 8pm on February 28. He is the first Pope to resign in nearly 600 years. In his statement, available in text and audio at the Vatican Radio website, the Pope revealed "a decision of great importance for the life of the Church."
From his statement:
"…in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, 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. For this 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, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was chosen to become Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. In the rush to consider a candidate list, online bookmakers have already laid odds on cardinal contenders to the Holy See. According to both Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana is the current favorite to become the next Pope. Paddy Power has even opened the next Papal name to betting.