Pope Benedict has been a stalwart defender of the institutions of marriage and family:
In a surprise announcement, Pope Benedict XVI said today that he will resign at the end of the month. The pope said that due to the increased weakness accompanying his advanced age - he is 85 - he feels that he is unable to carry out the duties of his office.
"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," he said in a statement to a meeting of Vatican cardinals.
"I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by 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 barque 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."
He is reportedly the first pope to resign in six centuries.
The pope is considered one of the strongest allies of the pro-life and pro-family movements, frequently issuing statements defending the natural family and the right to life from conception until natural death.
He was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005. (LifeSiteNews)