Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is resigning from the Papacy due to ongoing health issues. The Vatican has confirmed the Pope will resign on 28 February. The Pope, in a statement to Vatican Radio, said "both strength of mind and body are necessary" to do justice to the position he held.
The Pope's failing health has been cause for concern for some time now. Last year he started using a cane and also found it difficult to read the text of an address he delivered in Rome.
Benedict XVI was elected Pope at the age of 78, the oldest elected Pope since the 18th century. Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April, 2005 in a papal conclave, and took possession of Arch basilica of St John Lateran on 7 May, 2005. He is the 265th Pope in the Vatican's history.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke against anti-immigration bias. In 2006, at the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, the Pope urged all governments to strengthen refugees and migrants' basic rights.
During his tenure, he was open to communication with other religions and religious heads. However, his efforts were dogged with controversy.
Islam followers and leaders were unhappy with his lecture at the University of Regensburg. Muslims across the world took umbrage when the Pope, in his speech, said: "Show me what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
His visit to Turkey (2006) shortly after that lecture was overshadowed by the derogatory comments he had made about Islam. He also said that Turkey should strive to remain associated with the Muslim world rather than gain entry into the European Union.
The Pope's visit to Cuba attracted a lot of attention. The biggest achievement during the visit was when Cuba agreed to issue a public holiday on Good Friday at the Pope's request. During his visit, he also criticised US embargo of the country. The three-day visit went a long way in improving relations between the Communist state and the Catholic Church.
On his visit to Brazil, the Pope condemned the use of contraceptives. He also said abortion was unethical. He also delved into politics, criticising economic models that he believed were corrupting economics, government and religion.
In Australia (2008), the Pope issued an apology for the child sex abuse stories implicating Catholic priests and clergymen in Australia. He said: "Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering."
In 2009, he again attracted controversy during his visit to Africa. While in Cameroon, he said the root cause of AIDS was not condoms but Africans' sexual behaviour.