The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.
The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning.
He emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope - the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide - requires "both strength of mind and body."
COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Pope's Remarks | Video of his 2005 Election | Buffalo Bishop Malone: Pope Looked Frail in 2011 | INTERACTIVE SPECIAL : A Timeline
See Also: A WBEN PHOTO ALBUM
Castelfranco in Rome
Dr. Ken Garbarino MD,
What's Next for the Roman
Buffalo's Early News In Depth- Exclusive WBEN Audio
John Zach & Susan Rose in Studio with
Msgr. Pat Keleher
Director of The Newman Center At UB
On The Conclave
On Successors & Benedict's Future
On Age, The Pope's Decision & The Cardinals
"An Exciting Time" of Change
Parishioners Comment On Papal Retirement
Western New York Catholics that attended the noon-time mass at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in downtown Buffalo had some comments on pending resignation of Pope Benedict.
"I understand his feelings, and I'm very glad and I think that he's thoughtful in his policies. I hope for the very best for him," said Kathy Spina of Hamburg, one of several who shared their thoughts with WBEN. READ MORE
As the world digests the news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, it brings forth the age-old question: when is it time to retire?
"When you're in your mid to late 50s, you beign to realize you just don't seem to have the energy as before. You have the same passion, but it gets harder and harder to stay on top of your game," says Bob Meiss, an aging expert who recently retired from his post as CEO of Beechwood Homes.
The latest from the Associated Press:
|The Vatican is acknowledging for the first time that Pope Benedict XVI has had a pacemaker for years and that its battery was replaced a few months ago in secret.|
|Pope Benedict XVI is planning to stay out of the public eye following his retirement at the end of the month and will probably not even write any more, his brother said Tuesday after talking with the pontiff.|
|Church leaders in the Philippines, Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation, say they are surprised at Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign but praised his honesty and prayed for an orderly succession.|
|For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister. Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI's retirement home.|
|The closest of confidants, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger watched from the front row as Pope John Paul II, once a strapping athlete, steadily deteriorated in his later years.|
|Latin America is home to the world's largest Roman Catholic population, but hopes that the next pope will come from the region appear faint, experts said Monday.|
|Benedict XVI always cast himself as the reluctant pope, a shy bookworm who preferred solitary walks in the Alps to the public glare and the majesty of Vatican pageantry. But once in office, he never shied from charting the Catholic Church on the course he thought it needed - a determination reflected in his stunning announcement Monday that he would be the first pope to resign since 1415.|
|Catholic worshippers and clergy in Africa, where the church is rapidly growing, greeted the news Monday of Pope Benedict XVI's impending retirement with surprise, respect, and a question: Could the next pontiff be from their continent?|
|With a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope has done in more than half a millennium, stunning the world by announcing his resignation Monday and leaving the already troubled Catholic Church to replace the leader of its 1 billion followers by Easter.|
|Pope Benedict XVI set clear and ambitious goals for his papacy quickly after he was elected: He hoped to re-evangelize the increasingly secular West. He would show that religious faith and reason could co-exist in the modern world. He would reach out to traditionalists who had split from the church and shore up Catholic identity.|
|Pope Benedict XVI's resignation opens the door to an array of possible successors, from the conservative cardinal of Milan to a contender from Ghana and several Latin Americans. But don't count on a radical change of course for the Catholic Church: Benedict appointed the majority of cardinals who will choose his successor from within their own ranks.|
|The world seems surprised that an 85-year-old globe-trotting pope who just started tweeting wants to resign, but should it be? Maybe what should be surprising is that more leaders his age do not, considering the toll aging takes on bodies and minds amid a culture of constant communication and change.|
Earlier Coverage- From Monday's announcement
A Pope Resigns:
Exclusive WBEN Audio
On The WBEN Liveline
Sister Margaret Carney, Pres.
St. Bonaventure University
Fr. Joseph Hubbert
Niagara U, Religious Studies
CBS's Vicki Barker
"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," he told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by 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 barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary - strengths 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."
READ ENTIRE STATEMENT HERE
Benedict called his choice "a decision of great importance for the life of the church."
The move sets the stage for the Vatican to hold a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a pope doesn't have to be observed.
There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner - the same situation when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.
When Benedict was elected pope at age 78 - already the oldest pope elected in nearly 300 years - he had been already planning to retire as the Vatican's chief orthodoxy watchdog to spend his final years writing in the "peace and quiet" of his native Bavaria.
Contenders to be his successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's office for bishops.
Longshots include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Although Dolan is popular and backs the pope's conservative line, the general thinking is that the Catholic Church doesn't need a pope from a "superpower."
All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a pope has been elected.
Popes are allowed to resign; church law specifies only that the resignation be "freely made and properly manifested."
Benedict himself raised the possibility of resigning if he were simply too old or sick to continue on in 2010, when he was interviewed for the book "Light of the World."
"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," Benedict said.