Ratzinger throws in the towel!

THE Pope is to resign at the end of this month in an entirely unexpected development, the Vatican has confirmed.

Ratzinger: Perhaps he could no longer stand the heat

Ratzinger: Perhaps he could no longer stand the heat

According to the BBC, the 85-year-old became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005 following the death of John Paul II.

The reasons behind the pontiff’s surprise resignation have yet to emerge.

At 78, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected.

There much excitement over the issue on Reddit, where someone points out that the last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII (1406–1415).

Latest reactions to the news:

11.58 A nicely-put reaction from the editor of The Catholic Herald newspaper, Luke Coppen:

Pope Benedict’s pontificate has been full of surprises. This is the biggest one of all.

11.55 Catholic commentator Mary Kenny has told BBC News the decision is reflective of Benedict’s “intelligence” and that he had done much for Anglicans in the UK who no longer felt the Church of England reflected their views.

11.50 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has released a statement through a spokesman on the resignation of the German-born Pope this morning:

The federal government has the greatest possible respect for the Holy Father, for his accomplishments, for his life-long work for the Catholic Church.

11.38 Ann Widdecombe, the former Conservative MP who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1993, has told BBC News:

Benedict has always been an extremely decisive Pope. If he decided he couldn’t carry on he wouldn’t hang around. [It is] fairly typical not only of the Pope but of the man. It is in the interests of the church if someone who can do them [his duties] takes over.

Hat tip: Peter Brietbart and Remigius