Pope Benedict XVI, who the spiritual leader of around 1.2 billion Roman Catholics the world over, on February 11, 2013, said that he would be resigning from his position this month. The news came as a surprise to the world and he explained that the decision was taken due to his advanced age.
This has become the first time when a pope has stepped down in about 600 years. The 85-year-old Benedict said, “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”.
The news was unexpected for the Catholic world and also led to speculation as to who would be the next person to replace him. The incident had also led to a debate about the advantages of naming a pontiff from the developing world, where the church continues to grow. However, this decision will not be made by Benedict, rather a vote would be taken among the cardinals as to who should be elected as the new spiritual leader of the Roman Catholics.
Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesperson from the Vatican said that Pope Benedict XVI would be leaving his post on February 28, 2013 at 8 pm. The spokesperson added that before Easter they would have a new Pope.