Ending speculations of his resignation that started as early as 2010, the Vatican officially announces that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28, 2013. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new Pope before the end of March, hopefully giving way to a more progressive leadership in the Catholic faith. Pope Benedict XVI's papacy has been marred by a series of controversies on issues ranging from child abuse, Islam and homosexuality to the Holocaust and Aids.
"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," the Pope said.
The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.