Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Before his catechesis in the General Audience this morning, the Holy Father spoke of his decision to leave the pontificate. Interrupted by the applause of the crowd filling the Paul VI Hall he said:
"As you know, I have decided―thank you for your kindness―to renounce the ministry which the Lord entrusted to me on 19 April 2005. I have done this in full freedom for the good of the Church, after much prayer and having examined my conscience before God, knowing full well the seriousness of this act, but also realizing that I am no longer able to carry out the Petrine ministry with the strength which it demands. I am strengthened and reassured by the certainty that the Church is Christ’s, who will never leave her without his guidance and care. I thank all of you for the love and for the prayers with which you have accompanied me. Thank you; in these days which have not been easy for me, I have felt almost physically the power of prayer―your prayers―which the love of the Church has given me. Continue to pray for me, for the Church, and for the future Pope. The Lord will guide us."