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Vatican says pope resigning on Feb. 28, conclave expected mid-March

  • 9c8e729914273305290f6a706700ae41.jpg

    FILE - This Nov. 26, 2011 file photo shows Pope Benedict XVI waving as he leaves Paul VI hall after attending a concert of the Asturias Principality Symphony Orchestra directed by Chilean conductor Maximiano Valdes, at the Vatican. On Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on Feb. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/ Isabella Bonotto, file) (The Associated Press)

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    FILE - This Nov. 22, 2010 file photo shows Pope Benedict XVI leaving at the end of an audience with newly-appointed cardinals and their relatives, in Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican. On Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on Feb. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (The Associated Press)

  • 69e958d7f56e1b04290f6a70670060ee.jpg

    Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful from his studio's window overlooking St.Peter's square at the end of the Angelus noon prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (The Associated Press)

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    Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful from his studio's window overlooking St.Peter's square during the Angelus noon prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (The Associated Press)

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning.

He said that because of his advanced age and diminishing strength, he didn't feel he could carry on the job.

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