The 85-year-old pope said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months "to the extent that I have had to recognize 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," he said according to a statement from the Vatican.
A Vatican spokesman said the pontiff would step down from 1900 GMT on February 28, leaving the office vacant until a successor is chosen.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Janet McBride)
Saint Malachy (1094 - 1148) was known as a great prophet. While in Rome in 1139 he received a vision showing him all the Popes from his day to the end of time. According to these prophecies, only one Pope - the 111th - and one unnumbered individual remained after John Paul II. While on his way to the Vatican to assume the post of papal legate for Ireland, he fell into a trance and saw a line of papal reigns stretching from the successor to Innocent II and extending through centuries to the last of the line, identified as Petrus Romanus – ‘Peter of Rome’. Malachy assigned short descriptions in Latin to each pope when he committed his vision to paper. These mottoes usually refer to a family name, birthplace, coat-of-arms, or office held before election to the papacy. Some of the phrases are multiple prophecies, written with ingenious word play.
Through the centuries, his prophecies have turned out to be amazingly accurate, even prophesying the date of his death. In all, 111 popes (and one unnumbered individual named Petrus Romanus – Peter the Roman) and their characteristics are listed from 1143 to the alleged end of the world, or perhaps religion as we know it, when truth is revealed (‘Revelation’) about human creation and destiny.
Saint Malachy's final words were: "Rome, the seat of the Vatican, will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people."
After Saint Malachy’s prophecy regarding the 111th pope - the current Pope, Pope Benedict (‘The Glory of the Olive’) - he stated: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."
As Petrus Romanus was not given a number, it is possible that Petrus Romanus will not be a Pope. Is it possible that he could be a Camerlengo – the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State? The current Camerlengo is Tarcisio PIETRO Evasio Bertone, an Italian who was born in 1934 in ROMANO Canavese, in the Province of Turin – is he ‘Peter the Roman’ described in Saint Malachy’s prophesy, who may or may not become the next Pope, but who has the authority to direct the Vatican in the period when there is no Pope in office? (During the "sede vacante" (vacant seat) period, the College of Cardinals is collectively responsible for the government of the Church and of the Vatican itself, under the direction of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.)
OR, alternatively, could this be the next Pope? There has already been a suggestion the next Pope could be African.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Archbishop emeritus of Cape Coast (Ghana), was born on 11 October 1948 in Wassaw Nsuta, Ghana. He was ordained for the Diocese of Cape Coast on 20 July 1975 and holds a doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome.
From 1975-1976 and 1980-1981, he served as staff member at St Theresa’s Minor Seminary, and from 1981-1987 as staff member at St Peter’s Major Seminary. On 6 October 1992 he was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast and was ordained on 27 March 1993. –Vatican