The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning over health concerns and will officially step down on February 28, 2013, to make room for his eventual successor.
The 85-year-old Pope Benedict did not make a splashy announcement. He officially put the world on notice during a small event early in the morning, in an address in Latin, at the "Concistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto."
The announcement was then posted on the Vatican Radio website shortly after midnight on Monday, February 11. 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."
There are several contenders in the running and the front-runners are mostly those that were considered for position during the last Conclave. Pope Benedict, eventually chosen, was known in some circles as "God's rottweiler" for his tough stance on religious issues.
If it is truly a health issue that's forcing the Pope to step down, it does beg certain questions about the way the announcement was made. The last Pope to step aside was Gregory XII, who did so to end the Great Western Schism.