The leader of the Catholic Church announced on 11 February that he was stepping down from his role. Having assumed the mantle in 2005, Pope Benedict has sparked controversy across the globe for his staunch traditional viewpoint.
The last Pope to make the decision to step down was Gregory XII in 1415, whilst the Church was embroiled in an internal schism. On this occasion however, confusion is surrounding the decision. It emerged that the Pope has been using a pacemaker device for some years, but the Vatican has denied the relevance of this in the final decision.
The reason behind the move is the overall deterioration of the Pope’s health. He was quoted as saying ‘I’m too frail to go on’, as he was advised by his doctors to restrict his travelling due to poor health.
He will officially end his time as Pope on 28 February, with his last public appearance a day prior. He has been identified as the Pope who made most effort to cross religious divide, but also presided over the difficult period of abuse allegations within the Catholic Church. He attempted to promote the accessibility of the Church, launching a Twitter account in eight languages.
With a list of potential candidates of varied backgrounds being circulated, the Vatican has stated that there will be a new Pope by Easter. The issues facing that individual are sure to be of equal or greater tumult.