Pope resigning on Feb 28 for health reasons
VATICAN CITY (AP, AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday he would resign on Feb 28 as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, citing his age and health - the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.
The 85-year-old Pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning.
He emphasised that carrying out the duties of being Pope - the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide - requires "both strength of mind and body".
"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 told the cardinals.