Pope Benedict XVI is to resign on February 28th, a Vatican spokesman has announced.
Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005.”The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on February 28,” said the spokesman, Federico Lombardi.
Last year the Pope started using a cane on occasions and recently he appeared to have trouble reading the text of an address he delivered in Rome.
There was no immediate official comment from the Vatican.
In November last year, he declared that it is “beautiful to be old”.
“The quality of a society, I’d say of a civilisation, is judged by how well it treats its elderly,” the 85-year-old pontiff said during the visit to the home run by the Saint Egidio Community, a Catholic charity.
While it was “beautiful to be old”, age brought challenges and difficulties with which he himself was familiar.
“I know well the difficulties, the problems and the limits of this age, and I know that these difficulties are aggravated for many people by the economic crisis,” the Pope said.
History: Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus PP. XVI; Italian: Benedetto XVI; German: Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; 16 April 1927) is the 265th Pope, a position in which he serves dual roles as Sovereign of the Vatican City State and leader of the Catholic Church. As Pope, he is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle. Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005. A native of Bavaria, Pope Benedict XVI has both German and Vatican citizenship.