Pope Benedict XVI has today announced that he would resign from his papal office at the end of this month after almost eight (8) years of being in the same office.
Pope Benedict XVI, whose name is Joseph Ratzinger, said lack of mental and physical strength to cope with his ministry, forced him to resign.
This is contained in a statement issued to ZANIS by the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) Spokesperson Father Paul Samasumo who has called on all Catholics to pray for the head of the church during this moment.
Pope Benedict XVI said at a public consistory for the Canonisation of new saints today, that he came to the decision after repeated examination of his conscience before God.
The Pope said in today’s world of rapid changes in faith, words and deeds alone were enough to carry out the gospel but strength of the mind and body were equally necessary.
Pope Benedict XVI added that his strength had over the last few months deteriorated making him incapable to adequately fulfilling the ministry entrusted to him and thus renounced the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.
The German-born Pope, aged 85, will step down on February 28 and the Vatican expects a new Pope to be chosen by the end of March.
The last Pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months. His resignation was known as "the great refusal".