Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI occurred on 28 February 2013 at 20:00 CET (19:00 UTC). The resignation was first announced on the morning of 11 February 2013 by the Vatican. Benedict's decision to step down as leader of the Catholic Church made him the first pope to relinquish the office since Pope Gregory XII in 1415 (who did so in order to end the Western Schism), and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294. The move was unexpected, as in the modern era popes have held the position from election until death. The Pope stated that the reason for his decision was his declining health due to old age. The conclave to select his successor began on 12 March 2013.
He announced his intention to resign in Latin at the Apostolic Palace in the Sala del Concistoro, at an early morning gathering on 11 February 2013, which was the World Day of the Sick, a Vatican holy day. The gathering was to announce the date of the canonisation of three Catholic martyrs, Antonio Primaldo and companions, Laura Montoya Upegui, and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala. At the ceremony, known as the "Consistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto", he told those present he had made "a decision of great importance for the life of the church". In a statement, Benedict cited his deteriorating strength due to old age and the physical and mental demands of the papacy. He also declared that he would continue to serve the church "through a life dedicated to prayer".
Two days after the announcement Benedict presided over his final public Mass, Ash Wednesday services that ended with congregants bursting into a "deafening standing ovation that lasted for minutes" while the pontiff departed St. Peter's Basilica. On 17 February 2013, Pope Benedict, speaking in Spanish, requested prayers from the crowd in front of St. Peter's Square for himself and the new pope.
According to Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, S.J., Pope Benedict XVI will not have the title of Cardinal upon his retirement, and will not be eligible to hold any office in the Roman Curia. On 26 February 2013, Father Lombardi stated that upon the Pope's resignation his style and title are His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman Pontiff Emeritus or Pope Emeritus. He will keep wearing his distinctive white cassock without the mozzetta and without the red papal shoes, opting to wear a pair of brown shoes he received during a state visit to Mexico. The Cardinal Camerlengo destroyed the Ring of the Fisherman and the lead seal of the pontificate.
Benedict took up residence in the Papal Palace in Castel Gandolfo immediately following his resignation. As the Swiss Guard serves as the Pope's personal body guard, they terminated their service at Castel Gandolfo with the coming into effect of Benedict's resignation. The Vatican Gendarmerie, ordinarily providing for the security of the Papal summer residence, will be solely responsible for the personal security of the former Pope. Benedict will move permanently when renovation is finished to Vatican City's Mater Ecclesiae, a monastery previously used by nuns for stays of up to several years at a time. According to anonymous Vatican officials, Benedict's continued presence in the Vatican City will assist with the provision of security, prevent his retirement location from becoming a place of pilgrimage, and provide him with legal protection from potential lawsuits.
- Australia – Prime Minister Julia Gillard released a statement saying that "Australia's Catholics and their many friends received remarkable news overnight that Pope Benedict XVI will resign in coming weeks ... The Pope's announcement marks a genuinely historic moment, which many Australian Catholics will greet with great emotion ... On his election, Joseph Ratzinger said he wished to be 'a simple humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' and in his resignation that humility has been amply demonstrated."
- Canada – Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement saying that Benedict "will always have a special place in the hearts of Canadians. Laureen and I join all Canadians in wishing Pope Benedict well in the future."
- France – President François Hollande said Benedict XVI merits "respect" but did not comment on the matter specifically as it is internal to the Roman Catholic Church.
- Germany – Chancellor Angela Merkel praised him as "one of the most significant religious thinkers of our time", mentioned his efforts in intercultural dialogue and said about his influence on her: "The pope's words will accompany me for a long time to come." The government's press secretary, Steffen Seibert, said that he was "moved and touched," while "the German government has the highest respect for the Holy Father, for what he has done, for his contributions over the course of his life to the Catholic Church. [...] He has left a very personal signature as a thinker at the head of the Church, and also as a shepherd."
- Ireland – President Michael D. Higgins also extended his best wishes towards the resigning Pope, acknowledging his personal commitment to the Catholic Church. Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised Pope Benedict XVI's "strong leadership" and "great service to the Church" both in Ireland and throughout the world after the pontiff's resignation.
- Italy – Prime Minister Mario Monti said he was "greatly shaken by this unexpected news"
- Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III was "filled with great regret as news comes of Pope Benedict XVI announcing he intends to relinquish the Petrine Ministry on February 28 of this year." He also recalled the "fond gratitude, the many prayers and comforting words Pope Benedict XVI has dedicated to Filipinos in times of calamity and challenge, and his words of encouragement and witness in the many Catholic events that have brought Catholics together, such as the recent canonization of San Pedro Calungsod."
- Scotland – First Minister Alex Salmond said that the world "should respect the decision of His Holiness to pass on his ministry in a selfless gesture, on health grounds, in the best interests of the Church" and reminisced "like many Scots, I remember with great fondness the resounding success of Pope Benedict's visit to Scotland in 2010 and the papal Mass celebrated at Bellahouston Park. I wish him a very peaceful retirement."
- United Kingdom – Prime Minister David Cameron praised Benedict XVI, saying: "I send my best wishes to Pope Benedict following his announcement today. He has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain's relations with the Holy See. His visit to Britain in 2010 is remembered with great respect and affection." He added that "He will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions."
- United States of America – President Barack Obama praised Benedict XVI, saying: "On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years." He added that he wished "the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor."
We do not have this sort of event happening everyday. But at the same time, we know that the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983, makes provision for the resignation of the Pope, if he becomes incapacitated or, as with Benedict XVI, if he believes he is no longer able to effectively carry out his official functions as head of the Roman Catholic Church due to a decline in his physical ability. This is not the first time that a Pope would resign. In fact, we have had not less than three who resigned, including Pope Celestine V in 1294 and Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Pope Benedict XVI was not forced into taking that decision. Like he said in his own words, he acted with ‘full freedom,’ being conscious of the deep spiritual implication of his action... By his decision, the Holy Father has acted gallantly and as such we must commend and respect his decision.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger's spokesman said: "During his period there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue. I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam." The spokesman also said that Metzger wished Benedict XVI "good health and long days."
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and spiritual head of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism expressed sadness over his resignation, while noting "his decision must be realistic, for the greater benefit to concern the people."
Final week 
Benedict XVI delivered his final Angelus on Sunday, 24 February. He told the gathered crowd, who carried international flags and thanked the pope, "Thank you for your affection. [I will take up a life of prayer and meditation] to be able to continue serving the church." The pope appeared for the last time in public during his regular Wednesday audience on 27 February 2013. As of 16 February, 35,000 people had already registered to attend the audience. On the evening of 27 February there was a candlelight vigil to show support for Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Square. On his final day as pope, Benedict held an audience with the college of Cardinals, and at 16:15 local time he boarded a helicopter and flew to Castel Gandolfo, where he waited out the final hours of his papacy. At about 17:30, he addressed the masses from the balcony for the last time.
See also 
- Cullinane, Susannah (12 February 2013). "Pope Benedict XVI's resignation explained". CNN. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Davies, Lizzy; Hooper, John; Connelly, Kate (11 February 2013). "Pope Benedict XVI resigns due to age and declining health". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Messia, Hada (11 February 2013). "Pope Benedict to resign at the end of the month, Vatican says". CNN. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Father Raymond J. de Souza (12 February 2013). "The Holy Father takes his leave". The National Post. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "Pope Benedict XVI in shock resignation". BBC News (BBC). 11 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation at end of month". Vatican Radio. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Conclave to begin Tuesday March 12th". Vatican Radio. 8 March 2013.
- "The future is God's". L'Osservatore Romano. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "El Papa tomó la decisión de renunciar tras su visita a México y Cuba". CNNMéxico (in Spanish). Turner Broadcasting System. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Pope convokes consistory for canonization of three Blessed". The Vatican Today. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Lavanga, Claudio; McClam, Erin; Jamieson, Alastair. "Pope Benedict XVI, citing deteriorating strength, will step aside Feb. 28". NBC News.
- Cowell, Alan (13 February 2013). "Pope Ushers In Lent, Making Its Message of Sacrifice Personal This Year". The New York Times
- Ralph, Talia (13 February 2013). Pope Benedict XVI leads his final mass on Ash Wednesday. GlobalPost
- "Pope Benedict tells cheering crowd to pray 'for me and next pope'". NBC News.
- Glatz, Carol; Wooden, Cindy (12 February 2013). "Benedict will be prayerful presence in next papacy, spokesman says". Catholic News Service.
- "Benedict XVI Will Be Pope Emeritus". Vatican Information Service. 2013-02-26.
- Doughty, Steve; Roberts, Hannah (2013-02-12). "Now will there be TWO Popes?". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- Pullella, Phillip (2013-02-15). "Pope will have security, immunity by remaining in the Vatican". Reuters.
- "Pope's resignation historic, says Prime Minister Julia Gillard". news.com.au.
- Prime Minister's Office (11 February 2013). "Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI". Prime Minister of Canada's Office. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- "Pope Benedict merits 'respect', Hollande says". The Local.
- Germany and Europe hail retiring Pope Benedict XVI, Deutsche Welle, 11 February 2013
- "German government "moved" by Pope Benedict's resignation". Reuters. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "Kenny pays tribute to Pope Benedict". The Irish Times. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Stanglin, Doug (11 February 2013). "World leaders surprised, but respect pope's decision". USA Today. Text "18 February 2013" ignored (help)
- Statement of The Presidential Spokesperson on the Pope’s resignation
- "Statement from Prime Minister David Cameron following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI". 10 Downing Street. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Pope Benedict's 'selfless leadership' praised by US church leaders –President pays tribute to pope's work while senior Catholics say Benedict 'brought a listening heart to victims of sexual abuse', The Guardian, 11 February 2013
- Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: President Obama, Italian Prime Minister, Other World and Church Leaders React
- "As pope steps down, chief rabbi lauds Vatican ties". The Jerusalem Post.
- "Dalai Lama saddened by resignation of Pope Benedict XVI". Web India 123.
- "Some FAQ's on the Pope's Resignation". Zenit News Agency. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Thousands flocking to Rome to bid Benedict XVI farewell on Feb. 27th". news.va. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Appello: Luce e silenzio per il Papa (Appeal: Candlelight and Silence for the Pope)" (in Italian). culturacattolica.it. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- Text of final greeting on Feb. 28
|Wikinews has related news: Pope Benedict XVI resigns effective February 28|
- "Declaratio, 11 February 2013 – Benedict XVI" (Latin text). Vatican State: Holy See. 11 February 2013.
- "Declaratio, 11 February 2013 – Benedict XVI" (English translation). Vatican State: Holy See. 11 February 2013.