Pope Benedict XVI is making history. On Monday (Feb. 11), the leader of the Roman Catholic Church announced in a letter that he is leaving the Papacy; the 85-year-old, German-born Benedict (born Joseph Ratiznger) is the first pope to resign since 1415. Named Pope in April 2005 (succeeding the late John Paul II), Benedict will leave the position at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28.
"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 says.
"I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering," he continues.
"I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," Benedict explains in his statement. The post will remain vacant until a replacement is chosen, as per tradition, by a group of cardinals.