Vatican officials said the pope would continue to carry out his duties until Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., and that a successor would probably be elected by Easter (March 31).
Pope Benedict XVI, 85, was elected pope in 2005 at the age of 78.
The pope's tenure was plagued with "Vatileaks" and the sexual abuse scandal.
- His time in the Hitler Youth
- The Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse Scandal
- Relationship with Jews
- Apology to Muslims
- The Bennetton Kissing Posters
- His "Prada" Slippers
- What did you think of Pope Benedict and his oversight of one billion Catholics?
- What would you like to see in a new pope?
- Where his viewpoints stand? Is there anything you'd like to see change in church leadership?
Tell us in the comment section below.