Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, world leader of Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City announced he will step down on February 28th, 2013 due to old age and declining health.
Joseph Ratzinger aka Benedict XVI (age 85), served as pontiff for almost 8 years, following the death of pole Karol Wojtyla on April, 2005.
Here’s a fragment of Mr. Ratzinger’s speech pronounced earlier today at a meeting of Vatican cardinals:
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with 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 steer the boat of Saint 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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
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, entrusted to me by the cardinals: Joseph Ratzinger.
According to Canon law, a papal conclave will be convened shortly and the College of Cardinals will elect a successor.
A pope’s resignation is deemed as highly unusual; Ratzinger has become the first pope in almost 600 years to voluntarily resign his papacy.
Rumours about who will be appointed as new pope have flooded the web; Cardinals Ouellet (Canada), Bertone (Italy) and Turkson (Ghana) are among the favourites of bookies and other speculation lovers; however a clearer view of the Cardinals who are more likely to become supreme pontiff will be available once the papal conclave gets closer.
The Catholic Church (still led by Rantzinger) has more than one billion members around the world and is the largest Christian Church; Christianity is the largest religion worldwide, followed by Islam and Hinduism, according to Wikipedia.
February 11th, 2013.