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Pope Benedict XVI to abdicate: full statement

By on Monday, 11 February 2013

The Pope makes his announcement at a meeting of Vatican cardinals (Photo: PA)

The Pope makes his announcement at a meeting of Vatican cardinals (Photo: PA)

Full text from Pope Benedict XVI:

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

  • Adam

    Sad, sad day for the Church.

  • Christopher Parker

    God bless Pope Benedict, is all I can say. And Christ have mercy on His Church.

  • Cjm1957

    I think he has made the right decision, it is a huge task to lead the Church in the 21st century and particularly tough for someone of his age. God bless him and may the Holy Spirit bring us a vibrant new shepherd.

  • Hedleyungitoh

    really sad

  • Tshock

    Sad, of course. But lets be thankful for his wondeful leadeship, and pray that his successor will be as inspirational.

  • Lazarus

    Stunned and saddened. God bless him.

  • Parisbar

    Here is what the Pope had to say in ‘Light of the World’ when he was asked by
    Peter Seewald if he could ‘imagine a situation in which which [he] could
    consider a resignation by the pope appropriate’
    His response is seemingly consistent with today’s action: “Yes, if a Pope
    clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and
    spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right
    and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.’

    It is still extremely sad and I will pray for him.

  • teigitur

    I am sad to see him go. Though I think he has done the right thing. Let us pray that his successor with be as edifying for the Church.

  • Sam Black

    Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful.

  • WG Grace

    The wolves have proved too strong. 

    I wish he had made appointments other than many of those who have been advanced by him. 

    May Mary the Mother of God, all the Saints and Angels, pray to God that He may give us a Pope who will restore all things in Christ, starting with the Church itself.

  • George_timuri

    God bless Pope Benedict for all you have done for the Church and wish you all the best in your future endevours. Thank You.

  • Inquisator

    Yes, and no; either way a new opportunity for many reasons.

  • scary goat

    Nooooooooo………….. :-(

    God bless you Pope Benedict and may God bring us another Pope who will steer the Church faithfully.


  • maxmarley

    God bless Benedict. I will miss him

  • Alban

    An enormous shock for the Church. Whatever the views on Benedict XVI’s papacy he will retire with the good wishes of his flock and Christians from around the world. I hope that in their deliberations to come, the Church’s cardinals will choose a pastor who has lived at first hand with poverty, suffering and deprivation.

  • Soha

    got tired of lying for a living

  • AlanP

    People have been saying they are “stunned” and shocked”.  It is hardly a surprise at all, he has been hinting at it for some time.  It was good to see that it didn’t leak out beforehand, however.  His pontificate has, historically, been of average length.
    He is a great intellect and a modest man, but not a very good manager of those around him.  I feel he has been increasingly under the thumb of the Vatican bureaucracy.

  • Jeffocks

    Pope Benedict has done so much for the church and for Roman Catholicism as a movement in the world.  I have really felt the church has been given direction during his papacy and I hope the spirit of his reforms and also his great, and much-needed intellectualism, survives his departure.  I am very sad about this, but I hope he gets an opportunity to play his piano now. 

  • Elizabeth Hall1159

    May God bless this truly holy man who is more of a Christian than a politician.  May he continue to write and bless us all that way.  I am so sad he is retiring but for him I am happy.

  • Deodatus

    I pray in thanksgiving for him for so many reasons both personal and as a member of Holy church. I am especially thankful for his urgent teaching and shepherding in the offering of the Mass – teaching still yet to be put in practice in so many areas in British Catholicism.  He is a brave and good man, opportunely called to his awesome position in God’s Holy Spirit.  I pray for him and for God’s guidance in the choice of his successor.

  • David Palmer

    Thank you Father for your dedication over so many years. May God bless you and keep you.

  • mahatmacoatmabag

    In an unstable & dangerous world the vatican needs a younger pope who will not succumb to muslim extremist expansion in the west & marxist atheist pressure for gay marriage by the weak govts of the west

  • JonathanBurdon

    This is shocking news, it’s taken me aback. Does anyone know how the resignation will work? I mean what will Pope Benedict do? Will he go back to being a cardinal or will he retain the title of pope?

  • Silvermeks7777


  • adamson

    If you know the truth please let us know.

  • thanks

    Facebook for The Year of Faith Scotland, has a most delightful photograph of Joseph Benedict as a small boy.

    ‘On the day I called,you answered;
     you increased the strength of my soul’

  • oldjohntt

    A good decision from Pope Benedict. He’s been leader of the Church during a very difficult time especially so because of the horrendous handling of priestly sex abuse of children. Not sure he or any other bishop in Rome fully realised how damaging that sin and mismanagement was to the worldwide church. Someone suggested that it was on a par with the Reformation. I’m not sure it was that but it runs a close second. I thank Pope Benedict for holding the ship steady. I pray that Jesus will comfort and warm him in his last years. I pray too that our next Holy Father will be open to new ways of doing things, new ways to proclaim the Gospel, new ways to speak to the world. I pray too that he will work closely together with his fellow bishops around the world in practicing collegiality. Spread the burden, the responsibility, the vision, the work of the Holy Spirit. 

  • rjt1

    Sad, but we entrust ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and pray that the electors may make a wise choice and that his successor may live fully in accord with the grace given him.

  • Angela Parkes

    Where can I find the Latin text?  Have listened to it but I should like to use it with my students.

  • Six

    Well according to Fr Federico Lombardi, not even his closest aides had any idea

  • Jebaker3000

    I am a Christian but not a Roman Catholic. I have been greatly blessed and encouraged by Pope Benedict’s books and his love for the Lord Jesus is so clearly manifested in his writings and his homilies. Thank you and every blessing.

  • Lazarus

    The Latin version is up on the SSPX website:

  • Cs242

    He started to do outstanding things and now he is gone. I would have thought he would have made one last visit to the Russian Orthodox to bridge the gap there. That will be left to another Pope. A shocked and sad day indeed. May God Bless you, professor Ratzinger and keep you happy and healthy in retirement. Thank you for your service to the church since you started out as an altar server and then a priest all those long years ago in Germany.

    I hope you will continue to write books and have access to the Vatican archives so that you can write more books on Church History, the history of the bible etc. As long as you are mentally alert, continue to write books, Professor Ratzinger

  • Cs242

    closer to home at in more neutral domain surprisingly The Latin text is also on There is a video of the whole statement. If you click it it will be in Latin as it shows the Pope reading it and it was mentioned the statement was in Latin. But the english version is a faithful translation. There are no hidden agendas or tricks in the translation.

    Hurrybecause I don’t know how long the guardian newspaper will have it up…for a day perhaps unless you have some way of accessing their archives?

  • AxiosApologia

    I am a Non-Catholic Christian as well. I thank God for Pope Benedict and for his courageous stand against the forces of secularism that are besieging us. May God bless him richly, grant him peace and comfort, during what is, I am sure, a difficult time.

  • Benedict Carter

    Those who want to cut and paste the address in Latin should go to Rorate Caeli blog.

  • Aaron de Giorgio

    The Holy Father will normally likely revert to being His Eminence Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger.  He will normally take up residence in Castel Gandolfo until his pending work is finished and will then likely live in the Vatican (or native Germany) for the sake of privacy and contemplation and prayer.  He is a prolific author and a great theologian, the Holy Father will not want paparazzi snapping pictures out of his window, he will want to be in a peaceful and prayerful environment.  Incidentally, there is a vacant cloistered monastery in the Vatican city.

  • Sweetjae

    Read the writings of the Ancient Early Fathers of Christianity the likes of Polycarp, Irenaeus, Ignasius, Clement etc. who had seen and heard the original 12 Apostles themselves.

  • JabbaPapa

    … or, more simply, to the website of the Holy See …

  • Guest345

    Resignation is A pointer that all Cardinals and Archbishops involved in clerical sexual abuse or covered up same and hid the secrets and shuffled their priests should also consider their position “in good conscience” and should also resign. Will Cardinal Sean Brady now do so? If he doesn’t follow his boss, the Master he is shameless