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Pope Benedict XVI to Resign From Papacy

By Bloomberg - 2013-02-11T19:08:35Z

Photograph by Gianni Giansanti/Vatican Pool/Getty Images

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Meeting Prince Albert II

Benedict will become the first pontiff to resign since Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 to resolve a schism that had divided the church. Today's announcement took even senior church officials by surprise, Vatican spokesman Lombardi said. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, on the sidelines of an event in Milan, said he was very shaken by the unexpected news, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Left, Pope Benedict XVI receives Prince Albert II of Monaco at his private library, in Vatican City, on Dec. 5, 2005.