|Pope Benedict XVI (Photo Source: Telegraph.co.uk)|
Georg Ratzinger, Pope’s older brother::
His age is weighing on him.
Chancellor Angela Merkel:
If the Pope himself has now, after thorough consideration, come to the conclusion that he no longer has sufficient strength to exercise his office, that earns my very highest respect. He is and remains one of the most significant religious thinkers of our time.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor:
Who'd want to be Pope? It's not an easy task and it demands a great sacrifice. There's always been a bit of him that wanted to lead a quiet life of study and contemplation.
He has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain's relations with the Holy See and his visit to Britain in 2010 is remembered with great affection. Pope Benedict's message on that visit of working for the common good spoke to our whole country.
The Archbishop of Canterbury:
He has laid before us something of the meaning of the Petrine ministry of building up the people of God to full maturity. In his teaching and writing he has brought a remarkable theological mind to bear on the issues of the day.
I have admiration for this greatly responsible gesture, that demonstrates a noble and high purpose and regards the government of the Universal Church. Benedict XVI had said that if a Pope found that he was no longer adequate spiritually, intellectually and physically, he should have the right and the duty to resign. The Pope, who no longer feels capable physically, has resigned to ensure that the Church has a strong and sound government.
President Barack Obama:
The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor. I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.
"On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
"Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.
"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor."
Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan:
Popes come and Popes go. It doesn't mean when a Pope comes the Church completely changes. It isn't like a politician who wins an election and begins to implement manifestos. It is a different ball game all together, and I hope people out there realise that.
His decision is brave and we know he will not have reached it lightly. The choice of a successor is clearly important for the Church. Our thoughts are with those who must make such a critical decision on behalf of millions around the world.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols:
I am sure that many will recognise it to be a decision of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action. I salute his courage and his decision
Britain's Chief rabbi, Lord Sacks:
I saw him to be a man of gentleness, of quiet and of calm, a deeply thoughtful and compassionate individual who carried with him an aura of grace and wisdom. I wish him good health, blessings and best wishes for the future.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
It reflects his profound sense of duty to the Church, and also his deep appreciation of the unique pressures of spiritual leadership in the modern world.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York:
He unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the Church. More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity.
President François Hollande:
I have no particular comment on this decision, which is eminently respectable and which will lead to a new Pope being chosen. The French Republic salutes the Pope who took this decision.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard:
On his election, Joseph Ratzinger said he wished to be 'a simple humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' and in his resignation that humility has been amply demonstrated.
The Archbishop of York:
The Christian world will miss a great theologian with great spiritual depth. He was unafraid to proclaim the Gospel and challenge a culture that is so self-referential, managing to lift our eyes to God's glory.
Philippines presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda
"Pope Benedict's decision, historic as it is, is in keeping with humility and pastoral approach he has placed at the core of his service as Pope.
"May he find respite from his physical challenges, and peace and contentment in the seclusion of retirement."
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols
"Pope Benedict's announcement today has shocked and surprised everyone.
"Yet, on reflection, I am sure that many will recognise it to be a decision of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action.
"I salute his courage and his decision."
Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan (President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did.
"His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St Peter."
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana (being named as a possible successor)
"People are free to speculate and people are free to make their own judgements, and I suppose if it comes to looking for leadership then I think the thing we should be doing is rather pray to God, the leader and owner of this Church, to give a leader who is fit to lead this group at this point in time and in history. So for me I think this is time for a lot more prayer than speculation."
Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien
"Like many people throughout the world, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign.
"I know that his decision will have been considered most carefully and that it has come after much prayer and reflection."
Archbishop of Pretoria William Slattery (Spokesman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference)
"This decision evokes in us a certain amount of sadness, but we accept that this decision, not taken lightly, is best for both Pope Benedict and the Church.
"We wish to express our deep admiration for both his ministry and for his courage in facing the limitations of his age.
"We wish to assure Pope Benedict of our prayers and will commit our prayers for the Church as we discern the will of the Holy Spirit for the continuity of leadership of the Church."
Austin Ivereigh from Catholic Voices media organisation
"He's set a precedent by what he's done today. I think it'll be very hard for future Popes ever to say, as John Paul II did: "I must remain until the very end."
"I think he's seen that modern medicine enables long papacies and I think he thinks it's in the interests of the Church that a Pope should not serve, should not be in office, when he is very frail. I think in itself that's quite a remarkable thing."
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
"It was with a heavy heart but complete understanding that we learned this morning of Pope Benedict's declaration of his decision to lay down the burden of ministry as Bishop of Rome, an office which he has held with great dignity, insight and courage.
"In his visit to the UK, Pope Benedict showed us all something of what the vocation of the See of Rome can mean in practice - a witness to the universal scope of the gospel and a messenger of hope at a time when Christian faith is being called into question.
Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger's spokesman
"I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
"During his period there were the best relations ever between the Church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue."
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Dimitriy Sizonenko
"There are no grounds to expect that there will be any drastic changes in the Vatican's policies.
"In its relations with Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church has always ensured continuity between popes."
Minister-President of Bavaria Horst Seehofer
"With his charisma and his tireless work for the good of the Church, the Pope from Bavaria has inspired people all over the world."
Christine Boutin of France's Christian Democratic Party
"This is shocking, very shocking, unheard of for the Catholics and certainly for the entire world."
Ezio Mauro, editor-in-chief of Italian newspaper La Repubblica
"It is unprecedented in the modern era for a Pope to resign because of physical frailty, and for a new Pope to be chosen and take office while his predecessor remains alive."