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UPDATED: Pope Benedict to resign
11:14am Monday 11th February 2013 in News
POPE Benedict is to resign as head of the Catholic Church on February 28, the Vatican said today.
He is the first pope to resign his ministry since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
The pope has said in a statement that his strength is no longer adequate for him to continue in office due to his advanced age.
He says he is resigning in "full freedom" and says he is "fully aware of the gravity of this gesture".
Father Denis Blackledge, of Corpus Christi Church in Boscombe, welcomed the decision.
He said: “I suspect that as a man of 85 the job is getting too much for him. He will have sweated over this decision and I think it was a prudent decision and I admire the man for doing that, for somebody younger to take over."
“I think it’s probably the best thing he’s done since becoming Pope. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I think he’s set a courageous example to other people in authority that when they’ve had enough, they’re able to go for the good of everybody else “I’m sure he’s doing it for the good of the universality of the church and I give him 10 out of 10 as a positive decision."
He said the Pope had faced “absolute crucifixion” during his seven years in the Vatican.
“I think he’s born his cross manfully. I totally admire what he’s done," he said.
The Pope's declaration reads: "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.
"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 govern the bark 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.
"I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."