Here is his full (translated from Latin) announcement:
Dear Brothers,At first I thought it was a strange time for the Pope to announce his resignation- right before Lent, but when I thought about it further I realized his timing is perfect. Lent is the time for repentance and deepening our relationship with God. If we, as Catholics, are shocked at Pope Benedict's resignation, it may lead more Catholics to prayer and the Word, which in turn will grow our faith as a community. Do you see where this is leading?This is the Year of Faith. The Holy Spirit has shaped the way these events are being laid out before us in order to deepen our faith. God is amazing, is he not?
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me 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, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
I want to thank Pope Benedict for taking on this role as leader. He is leaving a legacy behind which we can read about in his many books, letters, and speeches. He seems to be confident about his decision, which means he knows that the transition (which he will be able to help guide and give advice to his successor) is going to go smoothly. I urge you to join me and many others in praying for Pope Benedict, his successor, and the Holy Mother Church.
Do you want to join me in the Novena to St. Peter? Say this prayer once a day for nine days.
O Holy Apostle, because you are the Rock upon which Almighty God has built His Church,obtain for me I pray you: lively faith, firm hope, and burning love, complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, recollection in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be made worthy to appear before the Chief and Eternal Shepherd of Souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever. Amen.
St. Peter, pray for us. St. Peter, guide His Church. St. Peter, be with us as we begin a new season for the Church.