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Pope Benedict XVI to resign amid health concerns

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(WOIO) -

Pope Benedict XVI will resign from the papal office on February 28.

The Pope said he is too old and too weak to continue on, and made the announcement on Monday morning.

"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."

The decision means the Catholic church will be without a Pope for a period of time until the Cardinals can select a new successor. A Papal spokesperson said he expects the church to be without a leader for as brief a period as possible. The Cardinals expect to hold a conclave to elect a new Pope before the end of March.

Pope Benedict XVI is 85 and will turn 86 on April 16.

Born Josef Ratzinger, the German became Pope in April of 2005 when the Cardinals selected him to succeed Pope John Paul II. 

One of his biggest tasks as Pope has been to oversee the church's response to the priest sex abuse scandal. He issued a public apology for people being abused at the hands of clergy and said the church made serious mistakes in responding to allegations.

A Vatican spokesman said the Pope's resignation is in full compliance with church law and the decision was taken freely.

The last Pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415. He did so to end a civil war within the church in which more than one man claimed to be Pope.

             Statement of Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon Regarding Resignation of the Pope

Today's (Monday) announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign as Holy Father on February 28, 2013 is an historic event and an action motivated by his love of the Church. One of my fellow bishops had this reflection on today' announcement which I would like to share, "Most of us know in our own personal lives what it means to see a parent grow old and decline in ability. That is the sense we bring to this announcement by our spiritual father." Pope Benedict XVI has been faithful and dedicated to Jesus Christ his entire life, exemplified in establishing this current Year of Faith when he asked,  "All Catholics to live their relationship with Jesus Christ." Although I did not know him well, a year ago I had the privilege to spend about 40 minutes with Pope Benedict along with my fellow bishops of Ohio as we discussed Church matters Ohio and the United States.  He interacted with us demonstrating his pastoral heart. I encourage the Faithful to pray for Pope Benedict XVI, asking God to bless him with his gifts of peace and joy, also, I invite all the Faithful to join with me to pray to the Holy Spirit asking him to give us a successor who will continue leading our Church and reflecting the image of Jesus Christ.  

Statement by the President on His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.   The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor.

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