Pope Benedict XVI has announced his intention to resign, saying "my strength is no longer adequate, given my advancing age." (Translated from Latin) Here are five things to know about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, with answers to frequently asked questions about the largely unexpected announcement.
RELATED | Pope Benedict XVI: Not The First Holy Father To Quit
1. Pope Benedict XVI was the first "Holy See" to resign in nearly 600 years. The last papal resignation was handed over by Pope Gregory XII in 1415, during a period of political issues within the church.
2. The papal resignation takes effect at 8:00 p.m. on February 28 (Rome time).
3. Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI has led the Catholic Church for eight years. He turns 86 in April. One of the worst challenges he has faced is the sexual abuse against children by priests across the world.
"How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord's body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way? It remains a mystery," he told Irish Catholics in June last year.
RELATED | Pope Benedict XVI Resignation: Papal Tenure Dogged with Sex Abuse Scandals [VIDEO]
4. The process for electing the next pope is expected to begin within three weeks after the effective date of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, which is Feb. 28.
In the event of a pope's death, cardinals form a conclave for the process of choosing the next pope. This conclave can last several days. The cardinals in the conclave are to gather after a minimum period of 15 days to a maximum of 20 days has passed since the former pope's passing, or in the case of a resigned pope, the effective date of his resignation.
RELATED | Who Will Be Next Pope After Benedict XVI? Candidates, Conclave And Everything You Need To Know About Electing A New Pope In 2013 [PHOTO]
5. The Vatican has told international media the pope was not resigning due to any illness or external pressure. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said a new pope is likely to have been elected by Easter Sunday, March 31.
RELATED | Pope Benedict XVI Resignation Statement: A Model Of Clarity, In Latin [FULL TEXT]
Must-Watch: Asa Baker-Rouse, 6, Tells a Story about Life, Waiting, and Being 'Scared'
UFO Sightings in Melbourne: Three Bright Odd Objects, One Flies Low-level at 'Ultraspeed' [VIDEO]
To contact the editor, e-mail: