VATICAN CITY - In a surprise announcement, Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he will resign as pontiff at the end of the month. He cites his health as part of the reason he made the decision. He released a statement at noon in Rome (6 a.m. EST). It reads, in part:
"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... 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... (on) 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours... With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."
Pope Benedict will become the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign.
To read his full statement, and listen to his announcement in Latin, click: Vatican Radio