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Pope Benedict XVI resigns

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Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation yesterday. His successor is expected to be elected before the end of March. photograph: Reuters/Stefano RellandiniThere was a huge shock for the Catholic Church on Monday. Its leader Pope Benedict XVI resigned. No one knew he would resign. He even surprised all of the people who worked closely with him. It is the first time a pope has resigned in nearly 600 years. The last papal resignation was in 1415. The Archbishop of Paris said resigning as Pope was a "taboo". However, he said it was a good decision because future popes would have more freedom to quit if they needed to. The Holy Father will be head of the Catholic Church until 8pm on February the 28th. From March the 1st, Vatican leaders will start looking for a new pope. Many Catholics hope their next leader will be from the developing world.

Benedict, 85, said he was too old to do his job properly. He became Pope in 2005 at the age of 77. He said that to perform the role of pope, "both strength of mind and body are necessary". He admitted that in the past few months he has not felt strong enough to do his job properly. His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, told reporters: "My brother would like more rest at this age." Benedict had to manage some big scandals in his time as Pope. These included the truth coming out about thousands of children being sexually abused by priests. The Church covered this up for many decades. Meanwhile, world leaders have made statements to thank Benedict for his work over the past eight years.

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