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Pope to retire at the end of the month

QUITING : Pope Benedict XVI

POPE BENEDICT XVI will become the first leader of the Catholic Church to resign in 600 years, citing his age as his reason for stepping down.

The 85-year-old from Germany will resign on February 28 and the papacy will be vacant until March.

The Pope, according to the vatican, told cardinals on February 11: "Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

Gregory XII was the last Pope to resign, doing so in 1415.

Benedict, who became the head of the Catholic Church in April 2005, is the 265th pope to take charge and the sixth German in total.

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