Pope Benedict XVI, the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, announced on February 11 that he will be stepping down at exactly 8:00 P.M. on February 28 because he no longer has the strength to carry out his papal duties, The Telegraph reports.

“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,” the 85-year-old pontiff, who was elected to the post in 2005, said in a statement published on Radio Vaticana.

“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,” the statement continued.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that a Conclave will be held to select Pope Benedict’s successor. "We can expect a new Pope by Easter, which this year falls on March 31," he added.

The last time a pope resigned was in 1415, when Pope Gregory XII stepped down to end the Western Schism, which was a time when three pontiffs were claiming the post.

(Photo by Ricardo Stuckert via Wikimedia Commons)

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