The world was shocked Monday when Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would become the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.
Joseph Ratzinger's last day as Pope will be Feb. 28. He was chosen in 2005 to succeed the late Pope John Paul II.
Bishop Robert N. Lynch, of The Archdiocese of St. Petersburg, released a statement following the Pope's announcement this morning.
Lynch said the Pope's resignation "was both stunning to many and surprising to some. I have had the unique privilege in my own priestly life to come to know Josef Ratzinger well and when he said shortly after his election as our Pope that he would resign if his health ever would not permit him to fulfill his responsibilities as he saw fit, I believed him."
Lynch's statement continues:
"His own succession followed, as all will remember, a long period of serious illness of Blessed John Paul II during which the world watched a once formidable figure who survived an assassination attempt die slowly, painfully but as an example for us all. Pope Benedict watched that chapter of the Church’s history and from the beginning did not wish its repeat. So he has done what he said he would do and once again demonstrates his love and zeal for the Church.
I repeat what I often said at the time of his election – the Church was given a leader with an incredible intellect, a pastor’s heart, and a very patient listener. I sensed when we briefly reminisced about our work together last May (2012) that I was saying good-by. I am happy for him that he is going to spend the rest of his days on earth at peace in prayer and study. And I shall always thank him for his love of the Church."
In a statement released by the Pope, he said, "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 have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, 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 recognize 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."
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