Pope Benedict to resign at the end of the month, Vatican says

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ROME (CNN) — Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28, his spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNN Monday.

The 85-year-old pope is resigning “because of advanced age,” Benedict told the cardinals of the Catholic Church on Monday.

“Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” the pope told the cardinals, according to the Vatican.

The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415. He did so to end a civil war within the church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.

Benedict, the 265th pope, is the sixth German to serve as pope and the first since the 11th century. He became pope in 2005.

He has led church after the third-longest papacy in church history and during a time in which the church is declining in his native Europe but expanding in Africa and Latin America.

Benedict’s time as pope has been marked with a series of scandals and controversies, including hundreds of new allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

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  • Shanna Carson

    Can we expect the Catholic change with the next Pope? I don’t really think so. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, formerly the archbishop of Quebec City, has the best odds of replacing Pope Benedict XVI, but he is an extremely conservative man who will definitely not want the Catholic Church to change. He is expected to be the continuity of Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Lu1

    It's sad that the Catholics see any Pope as a God.. and lets him play and dress as one also. Even sadder is the fact that so many child predators have used the Catholic church as a way to get close to the innocent children … and prey upon them. It's truly time that the Catholics grew up and got out of the middle ages.. the Pope is just another Minister.. with a huge ego problem.. and a history of hiding many child molesters. The Catholic church needs a cleansing.. floor to ceiling.

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