Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.
The unexpected development - the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years - surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.
The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter.Pope Benedict XVI is a great pope and a great man. We will miss him. Pray that the Cardinals are receptive to the Holy Spirit and make the best possible choice.