Pope Benedict XVI said today that he would resign on February 28th because he no longer has the strength to fulfill the duties of his office.

“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 official said the position will remain empty until a new pope is chosen, but that the Vatican expects that period to be “as brief as possible.”