Vatican City (Holy See) News & Current Events

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
Pope Benedict XVI Becomes the First to Resign in Six Centuries


On February 11, 2013, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415. His retirement would begin on February 28, 2013.

He cited advancing age and a growing physical weakness as his reasons for retirement. Speaking to a small group of cardinals at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI said, "Before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited" for leading the Catholic Church. He has been pope since 2005.

On March 13, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina succeeded Pope Benedict XVI and became Pope Francis I. He became the first to take the name Francis as well as the first Jesuit pope and the first from Latin America.

For a list of all the popes, see the table in Religion .

See also Encyclopedia: Vatican .
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Holy See