IT'S official—Pope Benedict XVI will step down as Supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church at month's end.
The official announcement which was made yesterday by the 88-year-old Pope has left the Vatican in shock, the Trinidad and Tobago representative to the Vatican who is based in Port of Spain, Archbishop Nicolas Girasoli told the Express yesterday.
"This of course is official so I would like first of all to confirm the resignation of the Holy Father which will take place on the 28 February at 8 p.m. time of Rome, which means here would be 3 p.m.
"We all were surprised by receiving this news officially from Rome today but as the Holy Father clearly stated in his letter of resignation, he probably became very weak because of his failing health he felt that he could not carry on the ministry of Supreme pontiff," Girasoli said.
He added that Benedict's resignation came as a shock because it is very unusual for a Pope to resign and in the history of the church it is only the second time that this has occurred.
"The precedent is a few centuries ago. We have to go back to the end of the 14 century to find a pope who resigned, this is also why we were surprised.
"As of the 28 February he will retire to private life. We don't know where he will go, if he will stay in Rome or if he will go to a monastery. It has not been officially communicated," he added.
According to an Associated Press report, Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II, will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
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