Pope Benedict to Call it Quits!
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict is stepping down on Feb. 28, becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
The 85-year-old pope says he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties.
The surprise announcement came today during a meeting of Vatican cardinals. It sets the stage for a conclave in March to elect a new leader for world’s 1 billion Catholics.
Benedict says that carrying out the duties of being pope requires “both strength of mind and body.” And he says he has concluded that his strengths “are no longer suited” to doing the job adequately.
The Vatican says no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision. In recent years, the pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences. His 89-year-old brother says doctors had recently advised the pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.
Benedict had made clear in the past he would step down if he became too old or infirm to do the job.
When he was elected in 2005 at age 78, he was the oldest pope chosen in nearly 300 years and had been planning to retire to his native Bavaria.