Pope Benedict XVI Announces Resignation; First Pope to Resign in Six Centuries

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The Daily Banter Headline Grab (from the Guardian):

Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world and left the Catholic church stunned when he said on Monday that he would resign – the first pope to do so since the middle ages.

The move, announced without warning, will take place on 28 February and leave the papacy vacant until a successor is chosen.

Vatican spokesman said Benedict's aides were "incredulous" when he told them he would resign because he was too weak to fulfil his duties. He summoned a meeting of cardinals to tell them of "a decision of great importance for the life of the church".

One of those called to hear the announcement, the Mexican prelate Monsignor Oscar Sanchez, said none of the cardinals had expected it. "The pope took a sheet of paper and read from it. He just said that he was resigning and that he would be finishing on February 28," he said.

"The cardinals were just looking at one another. Then the pope got to his feet, gave his benediction and left. It was so simple; the simplest thing imaginable. Extraordinary. Nobody expected it. Then we all left in silence. There was absolute silence … and sadness."