Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will resign effective Feb. 28, the Associated Press is reporting.
According to the AP, the 85-year-old pontiff announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning citing his "advanced age and diminishing strength.".
The pope, leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide, emphasized that the duties require "both strength of mind and body."
The decision makes Benedict the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, with the last pope to resign being Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415, according to the AP report.
Born Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI was chosen in 2005 at 78 to succeed the late Pope John Paul II.
A conclave could elect a new pope by mid-March, the AP reports.
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