Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month in an entirely unexpected development, saying he is too old to continue. The Vatican has confirmed the information.
Benedict XVI became Pope at the age of 77 in April 2005 following John Paul II's death.
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. Pope Benedict XVI will become first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. Pope Gregory XVII resigned in 1415.
Pope Benedict XVI is expected to resign on February 28.