The last time a Pope resigned was in 1415 when Pope Gregory XII pronounced resignation.
Pope Benedict XVI is to resign for reasons relating to his health, according to a Vatican spokesperson. He’s the first head of the Catholic Church to quit the highest post since the Middle Ages.
The 85-year-old is due to step down on February 28. The Pope said he is “fully aware of the gravity of this gesture” but that he lacks the strength to govern Church due to age, according to Vatican’s spokesperson Federico Lombardi.
In a statement released by the Catholic Church, Benedict VXI said that “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.”
The last time a pope resigned was in 1415.Back then Pope Gregory XII pronounced the resignation, which the cardinals accepted. However, the last time a Pope resigned voluntarily, was Celestine V in 1294.
Pope Benedict XVI has been in office since19 April 2005.
Since his assumption of the title, he has been embroiled in the ‘Vatileaks’ scandal, in which his former butler was accused of stealing confidential information, and leaking it to journalists. The leaked data, which surfaced in January 2012, contained detailed exposes of the institution, revealing the power struggles, factional fighting and personal finances of the Papacy.
The reports also described competing churchmen initiating homosexual smear campaigns against each other and revealed a number of blocked reforms geared towards the transformation of the Vatican Bank – an institution already infamous for its lack of transparency.
The Pope emerged from the scandal as frail, indecisive, and remote, and concerned only with the spiritual side of affairs while blind to earthly misdemeanors around him. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone – the Vatican’s administrative head – emerged as a figure gaining increasing power as Benedict’s health weakened.