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Pope Benedict XVI to resign on February 28th

by Staff Reporter
11 Feb 2013 at 08:26hrs | 4555 Views
Pope Benedict XVI is to resign on February 28th, a Vatican spokesman has announced.

"The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on February 28," said the spokesman, Federico Lombardi.

The 85-year-old became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005 following the death of John Paul II.

The reasons behind the head of the Catholic Church's surprise resignation have yet to emerge.

Resignations from the papacy are not unknown, but this is the first in the modern era, which has been marked by pontiffs dying while in office.

At 78, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected.

He took the helm as one of the fiercest storms the Catholic Church has faced in decades - the scandal of child sex abuse by priests - was breaking.

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