Pope Benedict is to stand down as leader of the Catholic church on February 28. The Pontiff, who has been in office since April 2005, met with Cardinals at the Vatican this morning to announce his resignation.
His words were met with shock and incredulity as he had not even consulted with his closest aides. The 85-year-old’s decision is highly unusual – the last Pope to stand down was Gregory XII in 1415 and Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II continued in office until death despite a number of chronic health problems and agonising pain.
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In his resignation announcement, His Holiness said that his ‘strength of mind and body had deteriorated so greatly in the last few months that he could no longer continue with his ministry’.
His poor health could be seen as he struggled to walk with a cane in Rome last Friday.
The Church will select a new pope by Easter.
Source: Dailymail UK