Monday, 11 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI is resigning

Pope Benedict XVI made history on Monday when he announced, to the shock of the Catholic Church, that he would resign, making him the first Pope to do so since the middle ages. The Pope is planning to leave on the 28th February, leaving the papacy vacant until a successor is chosen.
Pope Benedict's has spent 8 years as the head of the Catholic Church, however his time as been peppered by sexual abuse scandals and often very controversial decisions. 
His successor is expected to be elected by the end of March and possibly for the beginning of holy week on 24 March. Pope Benedict will honour public commitments and engagements until the date of his resignation, after which he will move to a summer residence near Rome and then to a former monastery within Vatican territory.
He will take no part in the process to elect a successor. Cardinals will meet and vote on nominees in a series of ballots until a new pope is chosen.
Benedict, who became the 265th pope in 2005, has arthritis, particularly in his knees, hips and ankles. He had been due to travel to Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world, in July for a youth festival, but concerns had been raised among Vatican observers about whether he was fit enough.
A voluntary papal resignation is rare – certainly in recent centuries. Pope Celestine V exercised his right to abdicate in 1294. Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415 to end the western schism.