Updated at 6:36 a.m. ET: ROME — Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he will resign on February 28 because of his failing health, saying he no longer has the strength to carry out his duties.
Greg Burke, senior communication adviser to the Holy See, said the 85-year-old pope will step down on February 28 — becoming the first pope to resign since at least 1415.
The pope announced his decision during an address, in Latin, at the “Concistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto”, a relatively small event held early this morning. His statement was posted on the Vatican Radio website.
"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," the pontiff’s statement said.
Photo caption: Pope Benedict XVI arrives to greet the faithful after a mass in St.Peter’s Basilica to mark the 900th anniversary of the Order of the Knights of Malta, on Feb. 9, 2013 at the Vatican.
Photo by Andreas Solaro / AFP - Getty Images / NBC Slide Show