Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is 1st since Middle Ages
85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation this morning, a decision which took even the Vatican hierarchy by surprise.
The last pope to step aside was Gregory XII in 1415, who did so in order to end the Great Western Schism. The last papal abdication was Celestine V in 1294, NBC News reports.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, 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," the pontiff’s statement said.