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Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Resignation Is First In 600 Years

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing at the end of a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign Feb. 28 - the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. (L'Osservatore Romano via AP)

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing at the end of a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign Feb. 28 – the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. (L’Osservatore Romano/AP)

Pope Benedict XVI made the surprise announcement in Latin today to a group of Cardinals gathered at the Vatican.

The 85-year-old said Feb. 28 will be his last day. A spokesman said Benedict will then live in a convent and play no role in who will follow him as Pope.

Some liberal Roman Catholics have called on Benedict to resign for not doing enough to address the sexual abuse of children by priests.

But as The New York Times points out, “As the leader of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had been ahead of many of his peers in recognizing how deeply the church had been damaged by revelations that priests around the world had sexually abused youths for decades. As early as 2005, he obliquely referred to priestly abuse as a ‘filth in the church.’”

Watch the pope’s announcement:

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