Wikipedia Commons

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will be resigning on February 28. He will be the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. This 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 at a meeting of Vatican cardinals this morning.

The only reason he gave for the impending resignation is his advanced age and diminishing strength and as a result, he didn't feel he could carry on the job.