Pope Benedict XVI's last day as head of the Roman Catholic Church is February 28, 2013. The pontiff, 85, made the announcement personally, in Latin, during a Consistory ceremony canonizing three martyrs in the southern Italian city of Otranto.
The German-born pontiff is the first pope to resign in six centuries. Pope Benedict said that his ‘strength of mind and body' had ‘deteriorated ... to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.'
Formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the pope took office on April 16, 2005, following the death of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. The Vatican is expected to release details on the process of electing his successor.