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Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation

Nationals Park
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd as he leaves Nationals Park after the conclusion of Mass during a visit in 2008 to the United States. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI arrives for Mass at Revolution Square in Havana. (Osservatore Romano)
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI stands next to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Debbie Hill / Pool)
Pope Benedict XVI waves from the popemobile wearing a Mexican sombrero in March 2012 as he arrives to give a Mass in Bicentennial Park near Silao, Mexico. (Eduardo Verdugo / Associated Press)
Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI attends a ceremony to mark the 900th birthday of the Knights of Malta at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. He announced two days later that he no longer had the strength to carry on his duties as pope.

 (Eric Vandeville / McClatchy-Tribune)
Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict, seated on throne, attends a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican. His announcement that he would step down set the stage for a conclave to elect a new pontiff before the end of March.

 (Associated Press)
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict kisses a baby, Maria Tyszczak from Poland, as he arrives to preside over a Mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2010. (Paul Ellis / AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict prays in 2009 at the site where Jesus is traditionally believed to be buried, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. (L’Osservatore Romano)
Pope Benedict XVI
The pope greets well-wishers as he leaves Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 2008. (Philippe Wojazer / Associated Press)
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict arrives for a prayer at the site of the World War II Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, in 2006. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI

Thousands of people attend the installment Mass of Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on April 24, 2005.

 (Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press)
Pope Benedict XVI
The pope’s skullcap is adjusted during his installment Mass in 2005. (Pier Paolo Cito / Associated Press)
Pope Benedict XVI
German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to take the papal name Benedict XVI, blesses the coffin of Pope John Paul II during his funeral Mass in St Peter’s Square on April 8, 2005. (Patrick Hertzog / AFP/Getty Images)
Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Pope John Paul II, left, with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Munich in 1979.  (Associated Press)
Cardinal Ratzinger and Mother Teresa
In this September 1978 file photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency (KNA), Albanian-born Mother Teresa and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger attend a Mass during the 85th German Catholics Day in Freiburg, southern Germany.  (Associated Press)
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
A 1952 photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency (KNA) shows the future Pope Benedict XVI celebrating Mass in the mountains of Ruhpolding, southern Germany.  (Associated Press)
Joseph Ratzinger
A 1943 photo of Joseph Ratzinger as a German air force assistant during World War II. (AFP/Getty Images)
Ratzinger family
Joseph Ratzinger, left, and his family in 1938. From right, his father, Josef; sister Maria; mother Maria; and brother Georg. Photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency (KNA). (Getty Images)