The news came early on Monday morning: The Holy See confirmed to NBC News that Pope Benedict XVI will abdicate his position on February 28th, 2013. The pontiff announced his decision during an address, in Latin, at the "Concistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto", a relatively small event held this morning. In front of the college of Cardinals, the Pope said “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.” Benedict is the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII did so in 1415 to end a civil war within the church. A Vatican spokesman says a new Pope will likely be elected by the end of March. In the coming days and weeks, the discussion will turn to possible successors, and whether the Vatican will look to non-traditional locations, particularly Africa. We will get a live report from Rome and speak with the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and our panel when we see you at noon ET on msnbc.
Ari Melber, msnbc Contributor (@arimelber)
Jake Sherman, Congressional Reporter, Politico (@jakesherman)
Leigh Gallagher, Assisting Managing Editor, Fortune (@leighgallagher)
Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post/msnbc Contributor (@capehartj)
Claudio Lavanga, NBC NEWS Rome (@Lavanga)
E.J. Dionne, Columnist, The Washington Post (@ejdionne)