Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, that he will resign on Feb. 28. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals. Pope Benedict XVI who was elected pope in the 2005 conclave, is stepping down on Feb. 28, becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. When he became pope at age 78, Benedict XVI was already the oldest pontiff elected in nearly 300 years. The conclave to elect a new pope must begin 15-20 days after Benedict’s resignation.
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In this summer 1952 photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency KNA, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, center, celebrates Mass in the mountains of Ruhpolding, southern Germany. Ratzinger went on to be elected pope in 2005, assuming the name of Benedict XVI.
In this September 1978 file photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency KNA, Albanian-born Mother Teresa, left, and German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, right, attend a Mass during the 85th German Catholics Day in Freiburg, southern Germany, from Sept. 13-19, 1978. Ratzinger was elected Pope, April 19, 2005 and chose Benedict XVI as his papal name.
In this 1979 file photo, Pope John Paul II, left, poses with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, who was named on Nov. 25, 1981, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, the former Holy Office. Ratzinger was elected Pope, April 19, 2005 and chose Benedict XVI as his papal name.
In this May 28, 2006 file photo, Pope Benedict XVI walks through the gate of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland, to pay his respects to the Holocaust victims. Sign at left reads “stop” in German and Polish. Sign above the gate reads “Arbeit macht frei,” German for “work will set you free.”
In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009 file photo, Pope Benedict XVI, standing at center, waves from his popemobile on his way to the Spanish Steps in central Rome, for the traditional prayer before a statue of the Virgin Mary on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception.
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, right, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, hug each other after the pontiff announced during the meeting of Vatican cardinals that he would resign on Feb. 28, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, center, leaves after attending a meeting of Vatican cardinals where he read a document in Latin in which he announced his resignation, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.