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Pope Benedict XVI to resign citing poor health


The unexpected development - the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years - surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.

The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope in 2005 after John Paul II's death.
The BBC's David Willey in Rome says the move has come as a shock - but adds that in theory there has never been anything stopping Pope Benedict or any of his predecessors from stepping aside.

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