Recap: Pope Benedict XVI resignation reaction

Key points

  • Pope Benedict XVI announced he is to resign on the evening of 28 February
  • Pope Benedict said he "had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me"
  • Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before the end of March, ahead of Easter
  • Benedict XVI was one of the oldest new popes in history when he was elected in 2005. He is 85
  • All times GMT

Live text

Reporting:

  • Lucy Wilkins 
  • Holly Wallis 
  • Samantha Dalton 
  • Penny Spiller 

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Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the news that Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation.

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Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi has told the AFP news agency that he will step down at 19:00 on 28 February.

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This is a surprise announcement, and makes him the first pope to resign in centuries.

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The Pope says his strength is no longer adequate to continue in office, in a statement reported by Reuters news agency.

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The pope says he is fully aware of the gravity of his decision.

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Benedict XVI was one of the oldest new popes in history when he was elected in 2005. He will be 86 years old in April.

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Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas Day 2006

Previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the piano-playing professor was looking forward to retirement when Pope John Paul II died in 2005. He has said he never wanted to be Pope.

TWEET

Samuel Mullins in Australia

tweets: Despite what you've heard, Pope Benedict has been excellent overall. But it's been clear he's getting old.

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The Vatican says Pope Benedict's resignation means the papacy will be vacant until a successor is chosen, Reuters news agency reports.

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A Vatican official says he expects the period when the papacy is vacant to be "as brief as possible, Reuters reports.