Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he will be the first pope in 600 years to resign, effective Feb. 28.
Benedict, 85, cites his age as the reason.
“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,” Benedict told cardinals as they gathered in Rome for the proclamation of new saints.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said a new pontiff is expected to be elected by Easter and a papal election could be expected “within 10 to 15 days.”
Prior to this, the last papal resignation was in 1417, when Gregory XII resigned to bring about the end of the Western Schism.
However, Benedict said in a 2010 interview with journalist Peter Seewald that he would resign if he felt incapable — psychologically or physically — of carrying on with his duties.
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