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Pope Benedict XVI resigns: pontiff's statement in full

Pope Benedict XVI - Mon, Feb 11th 2013


The full statement from Pope Benedict XVI, who has announced he is to step down on February 28 

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. 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. 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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. 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 20:00 hours, 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.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013



The Church's Code of Canon Law explicitly allows the resignation of a Pope.

There is a precedent of at least four and possibly six previous Popes who have resigned  or step down:

• "Pontian in 235, when he realised that he would never return from exile"

• "Silverius, who resigned in 537 under imperial threat, while also in exile"

• "John XVIII in 1009, who is thought to have resigned shortly before death"

• "Benedict IX, who abdicated in 1045 in favour of his godfather, John Gratian"

• "Celestine V in 1294, the aged hermit"

• "Gregory XII, the last pope to have resigned, in 1415, as part of a negotiated settlement at the Council of Constance to bring an end to the Great Western Schism (1378-1417)."

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