Citing advanced years and infirmity, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic world on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28 after less than eight years in office, the first pope to do so in six centuries.It's not totally unprecedented, but it's extremely rare for a Pope to resign.
After examining his conscience "before God," he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and on social media, "I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise" of his position as head of the world's one billion Roman Catholics.
..."In today's world," the pope said, "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 St. 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," he continued, "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 St. Peter."
I mean, given Pope Benedict's positions on, well, everything, I can't say I'll miss his stirring speeches on how basically everyone who isn't a straight white cis Catholic male is garbage. Maybe next time, we'll get a progressive lady pope!
HA HA JUST KIDDING.
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UPDATE: You can read the Pope's resignation statement in its entirety here. And Igor at Think Progress has some thoughts on Pope Benedict's legacy here.