Pope says will resign on Feb 28: Vatican spokesman
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced he will resign on February 28, a Vatican spokesman told AFP, which will make him the first pope to do so in centuries.
“The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pmon February 28,” said the spokesman, Federico Lombardi.
Pope Benedict XVI said he was stepping down as head of the Church because he lacks the strength to govern due to his age.
“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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me,” the 85-year old said in a statement announcing he will resign on February 28.
The Vatican said it expected a new pope would be elected next month, “We should have a new pope for Easter,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters, saying a conclave could be held within 15 or 20 days of the resignation.
Pope Benedict XVI “will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions”, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday following the pontiff’s shock resignation. “I send my best wishes to Pope Benedict following his announcement today.
French President Francois Hollande Monday hailed Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign due to old age as one worthy of respect.
“I have no special comment to make on this decision which is eminently respectable,” Hollande said, adding that France “hails the pope who took this decision.”