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Pope to Resign, Leaving Local Visit Uncertain

Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to visit Southeastern PA in 2015.

Pope to Resign, Leaving Local Visit Uncertain

In a surprise overnight (Eastern Standard Time) announcement Pope Benedict XVI says he will resign on Feb. 28. It is the first time a Roman Catholic Pope has resigned in nearly 600 years.

In an official statement posted on Vatican Radio's website, the 85-year-old leader of the Roman Catholic Chuch cites fading strength and the demands of the job for his decision to step down.

Dear Brothers,

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.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


What it means for a papal visit scheduled for Southeast Pennsylvania is unknown at this early stage.

In a clear statement in support of traditional "one man-one woman" marriage in the United States, the Vatican had put Southeastern Pennsylvania at ground zero of the debate over gay marriage. The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which includes Roman Catholic Churches in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, had announced it will host the Vatican's 2015 World Meeting of Families.

A conclave of Roman Catholic Cardinals under the age of 80 is expected to be called for March in Rome.  That is when the College of Cardinals will select a successor to the Pope who was elected following the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.

What do you think of the Pope's ministry and his decision to step down? Tell us in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

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