The Holy Father
took everybody by surprise when he announced his abdication today:
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.