Pope Benedict XVI announced today he will resign on February 28, saying his role requires "both strength of mind and body."
This is the first resignation of a pope since Pope Gregory XIII, who stepped down in 1415.
Pope Benedict XVI was elected at age 78 on April 19, 2005.
In a statement from Bishop of Buffalo Richard Malone:
"This morning’s announcement from the Holy Father that he would be resigning at the end of the month certainly came as a surprise.
When I met with the pope in November 2011 at the Vatican, he did seem rather frail. I wish to express my gratitude for his faithful ministry as Successor of St. Peter, his life of scholarship and his faithful leadership of the Catholic Church. One hallmarks of Pope Benedict XVI is his humility and pastoral concern in putting the good of the Church first in his discernment. I cherish the pectoral cross he gave to me and other bishops who met with him during our Ad Limina visit.
During his nearly eight year papacy, we have been witness to his keen intellect through his marvelous encyclicals: God is Love, In Hope We Are Saved and Charity in Truth. His Jesus of Nazareth book series is inspirational.
With the pending resignation of Pope Benedict, the same process by which he was elected in 2005 will be followed as soon as he steps down, with a conclave of the College of Cardinals, guided by Holy Spirit, electing the next pope.
I ask all Catholics in the Diocese of Buffalo to join me in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI, giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for the pope’s lifetime of dedicated, selfless service to the Church."