The pope is stepping down in three weeks. The Vatican surprised the world announcing on Monday morning that Pope Benedict XVI will resign.
The 85-year-old Benedict announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on this Monday morning, saying that "my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."
The pope told cardinals, "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering."
Benedict calls his choice, "A decision of great importance for the life of the church."
Popes have resigned before, but not in modern time. There is very little precedent for a former pope being around for his successor's conclave.