News Centre

Pope Benedict XVI to resign

Full text of Pope's declaration

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

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 recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill 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 on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and 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.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013



Statement from Archbishop Vincent Nichols

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Pope Benedict’s announcement today has shocked and surprised everyone.  Yet, on reflection, I am sure that many will recognise it to be a decision of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action.

The Holy Father recognises the challenges facing the Church and that “strength of mind and body are necessary” for his tasks of governing the Church and proclaiming the Gospel.

I salute his courage and his decision.

I ask people of faith to keep Pope Benedict in their prayers.  We Catholics will do so, with great affection and the highest esteem for his ministry as our Holy Father remembering with joy his Visit to the United Kingdom in 2010.  Pray, too, for the Church and all the steps that must take place in the next weeks.  We entrust ourselves to the loving Providence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

11 February 2013

Letter to the Holy Father from Archbishop Nichols

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has written to Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of the Bishops to thank him for his Apostolic Ministry as Supreme Pontiff, joyfully remembering his Visit to the UK in 2010, and saluting his courage and integrity at stepping down from the See of Peter.
Full Text

Most Holy Father

On behalf of the Catholics of England and Wales, and expressing sentiments shared by many others, I write to offer you, at this historic moment, our loving affection and prayers.

We recognise the courage and integrity of your decision to step down from the See of St Peter. We assure you of our support, while very conscious of our profound sense of loss.

We thank you, Holy Father, for all your years of service to the Church, and most of all for the seven years of your Apostolic Ministry as Supreme Pontiff. We have treasured your loving care as Pope and your wonderful teaching. Through your ministry many have grown in love of our faith and, most crucially, in their relationship with Our Lord.

We remember with joy and exhilaration your Visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 when you thrilled us with your presence and spoke the message of the Gospel to the hearts of so many.

We promise you our prayers for the years ahead. May God bless you with peace and the gift of consoling prayer. We know that you will continue, faithfully, your life‐long vocation of love of God and His Church and of prayer for us all.

Yours devotedly in the Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Vincent Nichols
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales