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Pope announces shock resignation in historic move (ChannelNewsAsia)
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday he will resign this month because of his advancing age in a fast-changing world, becoming the first pontiff in 700 years to step down of his own free will.
The 85-year-old said he will step down on February 28 after just eight years in office, making his one of the shortest pontificates in modern history and stunning the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics.
The German-born leader made the announcement in a speech in Latin at a meeting with cardinals in his residence in the Apostolic Palace, with his frail voice barely audible as he read a pre-written text.
“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 said.
As tributes poured in from across the world, the Vatican emphasised the former Joseph Ratzinger was not leaving due to any illness, despite speculation over his frail appearance in recent months.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he expected a conclave of cardinals to be held in March within 15 or 20 days of the resignation and a new pope elected before Easter Sunday on March 31