Pope Benedict XVI to Resign

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Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves after leading the Vesper prayer with members of Rome's universities on December 1, 2012 at St Peter's basilica at the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI will resign on Monday, effective February 28, the Vatican has confirmed—the first time a pope has resigned since 1415. In a statement, the pope, 85, said his health had deteriorated over recent months “to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.” He also said he is resigning in full freedom and is “fully aware of the gravity of this gesture.” Benedict had reportedly wanted his predecessor, John Paul II, to resign when his health was failing. The Vatican said the papacy will be vacant until a new successor is chosen.