Here is the most official source I can find:
Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation at end of month on Vatican Radio. Also see Damian Thompson’s Pope resigns. This is unbelievable news, but evidence of Benedict XVI’s deep humility. I’m satisfied this is not a joke!
There are already people who believe there hasn’t been a Pope since October 1958 when Pius XII died. Others will dispute the possibility of abdication and the legitimate election of a Pope whilst his predecessor is still alive (even though canon law provides for the possibility).
Will Benedict XVI influence the choice of his successor, or is the pendulum going to swing back the other way now? Much as I feel for an ailing man who is one year older than my father who retired from his veterinary practice twenty-two years ago, I suspect this is going to banalise the Papacy – perhaps just what is needed.
We’ll see in March with the Conclave. Chi entra in conclave Papa ne esce cardinale.
I just learned today that Celestine V’s successor Boniface VIII (the great champion of extra ecclesiam nulla salus) put Celestine V in prison where he died of hunger and disease. Lovely, I really enjoy these stories of men of God!