Pope Benedict XVI will resign due to health reasons at the end of this month, making him the first pontiff to leave the papacy in nearly 600 years.
The 85-year-old Benedict announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on this 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."
The pope's brother, Georg Ratzinger, says the pontiff had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and had been considering stepping down for months.
Georg Ratzinger that his brother is having increasing difficulty walking and that his resignation is part of a "natural process."
Ratzinger says, "His age is weighing on him.