Pope Benedict XVI surprised the Roman Catholic world on Monday by saying that he will resign on February 28 at 8 p.m., citing advanced age and infirmity.
The 85-year-old German-born Pope has become the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to step down since the last six centuries, as it has been marked by pontiffs dying while in office.
"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. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering," said the Pope is during his statement before the Church council.
"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 8 p.m., 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," he added.
Benedict XVI became Pope in 2005 following John Paul II's death. (ANI)