A spokesman for the pontiff announced he will step down Feb. 28.
Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday morning that he will resign, effective Feb. 28, according to the Associated Press. CNN reported that a spokesman for the pope did not give a reason for the decision, announced during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, but according to the AP, the 85-year-old pontiff cited his "advanced age and diminishing strength." The decision makes Benedict the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, according to the AP report. Born Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI was chosen in 2005 to succeed the late Pope John Paul II. The Vatican could hold a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, according to the AP.