Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign Feb. 28. According to the Associated Press he's 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.
Benedict, 85, emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope - the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide - requires "both strength of mind and body." The pope had recently been warned by doctors against making transatlantic flights.
The pope's decision is bound to spark reaction from U.S. politicians. Vice President Joe Biden is Catholic. So are House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
On Twitter presidential historian Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) touched on the age issue, a recurring issue in political campaigns. "Altho not a Pope, candidate Reagan pledged to NY Times Jun 1980 that if White House doctor found him unfit to keep serving, he would resign."
Via The Associated Press, and Politix reporting.