In a shocking news announcement earlier this morning, Catholic Church leader Pope Benedict XVI will step down from his papal role at the end of February. The 85-year-old Benedict is the first pope to resign from the position in over 600 years.
News reports from the Vatican swirled about concerning the impeding resignation announcement, which Pope Benedict XVI delivered today in Latin to a gathering of cardinals.
From Pope Benedict XVI's translated resignation speech as provided by Vatican Radio:
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… However, 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.
Known for embracing staunch conservative values and his prolific theological writings, Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Ratzinger), leaves the papacy during a turbulent time. Reports of rampant clerical abuse has marred the global image of the Roman Catholic faith.
A Vatican spokesperson has said the Pope will work until February 28 and that a successor will possibly fill the vacant role by Easter.