From the Vatican Radio website. Pope Benedict XVI's letter of resignation:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. 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.
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
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.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
– Pope Benedict XVI
Part of me feels so sad; I did not know that our pope was suffering in the last months and my love for him definitely has me mourning this update (of his poor health). I am confident that God is in control and I will now pray for the upcoming conclave.
Pope Benedict was the first pope I saw elected and I remember how excited we were as students ran across campus yelling at each other "White smoke! White smoke!" as they approached the Newman Center. We sat on the edges of our seats to hear the announcement and cheered when we heard "Joseph Ratzinger" in the midst of much Latin.
I also look forward to the upcoming excitement of a conclave and a new Holy Father to love and pray for. I am a Catholic nerd, what can I say.
Let us celebrate Pope Benedict for now and thank him and God for all the good he has brought to the Church. And, I am especially asking that if you have a Twitter account that you bombard @Pontifex with your love and support. People are so vile towards him on Twitter and I hope we can outweigh their disrespectful, hateful speech with gratitude and love.