Pope Benedict unexpectedly to step down, Vatican says - FOX 35 News Orlando

Pope Benedict unexpectedly to step down, Vatican says

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  • Text: Pope Benedict XVI message

    Text: Pope Benedict XVI message

    Monday, February 11 2013 10:21 AM EST2013-02-11 15:21:41 GMT
    Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he would resign Feb. 28 because he is simply too old to carry on. Here is the text of his announcement
    Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he would resign Feb. 28 because he is simply too old to carry on. Here is the text of his announcement

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he would  resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning.

"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," he told the cardinals.

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants.

Benedict called his choice "a decision of great importance for the life of the church."

The move sets the stage for the Vatican to hold a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a pope doesn't have to be observed.

There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner as was the case when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

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