Pope Benedict XVI to resign on 28 February
- Pope Benedict XVI to resign on 28 February
- Pope, 85, said he no longer has the strength to continue in office
- Conclave to elect a new Pope before end of March
- Benedict first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years
- Vatican says Pope took aides by "surprise"
- Elected on 19 April 2005 when he was 78
- In Pictures: Pope Benedict XVI
The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will step down at 7pm Irish time on 28th February for health reasons.
The 85-year-old pontiff said he is stepping down because he does not have the strength to continue in office due to his advanced age.
"For this reason, 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 Saint Peter," he said according to a statement from the Vatican.
The Vatican said the papacy will be vacant until a successor is chosen.
A spokesman said the pope "took us by surprise" with his announcement.
An official said the Vatican expects the period between 28 February and the election of a successor to be "as brief as possible".
Pope Benedict is the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.
He made the announcement in Latin at a canonisation ceremony in the Consistory Hall this morning.
The Vatican said the Pope's resignation is fully in compliance with church law.
President Michael D Higgins has written to the Pontiff wishing him well in his retirement.
He acknowledged the scholarship and personal commitment that Pope Benedict brought to his leadership of the Roman Catholic community.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the decision the Pope made was clearly taken following careful consideration, deep prayer and reflection.
Updates and reaction:
Reports and analysis from the Nine News are now available on the Watch & Listen page.
Analysis of the Pope's announcement from the Six One news is available on our Watch & Listen page.
Italian football team Juventus are in Glasgow ahead of their Champions League match against Celtic tomorrow night.
Goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon said: "I would only add that clearly he has been tiring, the Pope is ageing, he is feeling tired. It is a job with a big responsibility.
"How many would have taken the job on, how many would have taken this decision to stand on? He is clearly a very big character."
Cardinal Seán Brady has said that today is "an historic day. Pope Benedict has resigned in circumstances of his own choosing.
"While it is a shock to me, we can be certain that Pope Benedict has made this decision after very careful and prayerful reflection.
"I think it is significant that he has chosen to make this announcement on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady always points us to her Son. In his statement today Pope Benedict pointed us to Christ as the Supreme Pastor of the Church."
RTÉ's Fiona Mitchell is in the Vatican ...
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>St Peter's Basilica tonight... <a href="http://t.co/d6ga18NV" title="http://twitter.com/mitchefi/status/301019079102304257/photo/1">twitter.com/mitchefi/statu…</a></p>— Fiona Mitchell (@mitchefi) <a href="https://twitter.com/mitchefi/status/301019079102304257">February 11, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
US President Barack Obama said he extends his prayers and appreciation to Pope Benedict.
Mr Obama said the Catholic Church plays critical role in the US and the world, and he offers best wishes to those selecting next Pope.
Cardinal Brady said he expected to have a vote in the conclave to elect the next Pope and said he was praying for strength and guidance in making his decision.
All Ireland Primate Cardinal Seán Brady said the resignation of Pope Benedict is a profound act of humility.
Cardinal Brady said it was a conscientious and responsible decision to hand over the ministry of the successor of St Peter in a time of great challenge for the church and for faith in the modern world.
Pope Benedict's brother, Georg Ratzinger, said he respects the decision by the pontiff to resign from his post.
He said: "I have known it for some time so of course I was prepared. He alone can decide how physically and mentally strong he is just like only he alone can evaluate the post he held.
"Based on this evaluation, he took a responsible decision which I respect."