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Robed in white and waving at an unknown subject, he is accompanied  by a 7,700-word cover story aptly titled The Times they are A-Changing

Editorial: A resignation that could do Catholicism a favour

In this fast-moving world, it is not every day that something happens that has not happened for almost six centuries. Yet when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation yesterday, he was the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII, who left office in quite different circumstances, to end a schism. In his letter, Pope Benedict said that he was departing because of his age and declining health.

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican

Rome reacts: a city, a nation and a Church comes to terms with Pope Benedict XVI's resignation

Just two months after Pope Benedict’s fanfare about communicating to the modern world with the new-fangled Twitter, he chose to announce he was quitting in Latin before a council of hoary cardinals.

Leonardo Sandri: A top contender to become Latin America’s first Pope, Argentinian Cardinal Sandri is currently the head of the Vatican’s Eastern Churches department

Pope Benedict XVI resigns: Who is next in line? A selection process shrouded in secrecy

Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation may be virtually unheard of in modern times but the system that will choose the Catholic Church’s new leader follows centuries of well-rehearsed and high secretive tradition. It is a process that has, by and large, enabled successors to be picked quickly and we could even see a new Pontiff enthroned before Easter Sunday.

The pope’s brother, 89-year-old Georg Ratzinger, said: “His age is weighing on him... At this age my brother wants more rest”

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI: reactions in quotes

The great and the good lined up today to pay their respects - by and large - to the 85-year-old Pope Benedict following his announcement that he is retire from the papacy.

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican

Will the next Pope face south or north?

Benedict failed to reform the Vatican, preferring to write his books

The other four Popes who resigned: Marcellinus (left), Benedict IX, Celestine V and Gregory XII

Benedict XVI is first Pope to resign in six centuries - and only the fifth ever to stand down

Pope Benedict XVI's resignation is an extremely rare event in the two millennia  history of the Catholic Church.

A life in pictures: Pope Benedict XVI

A selection of images from the life of the 265th Pope Joseph Ratzinger

Rebecca Tyrrel: Anyone tempted to ride in the Holy Heli should be aware of the Pope’s medical history

Who knew that the Pope has a private pilot's licence, and that he likes to fly the papal helicopter to his summer palace in Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles south-east of Rome?

Pope Benedict appears willing to forge alliances with other faiths over same-sex marriages

Pope: gay marriage threatens foundations of family life and destroys the 'very essence of the human creature'

Pope Benedict has used the beginning of the Christmas period to ramp up his assault on gay marriage, stating that the very foundations of the family were threatened by same sex partnerships.

Never mind, George E. – you're in good company...

George Entwistle's 54 days as the BBC's Director-General might be considered short, but he lasted longer than many others in high-profile jobs.

The members of Pussy Riot were jailed for their protest

Russian Church was right to condemn Pussy Riot, says Pope

The Pope has backed the Russian Orthodox Church's tough stance against the punk band Pussy Riot who were controversially jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral, it was reported last night.

Paolo Gabriele, far right, in the courtroom of the Vatican tribunal yesterday

Trial begins in the Vatican of Pope's butler

Benedict's former servant leaked documents in 'an effort to clean up corruption'

The butler Paolo Gabriele, front, with Pope Benedict at the Vatican

Three Vatican 'moles' named in leaks scandal

A cardinal, a bishop and the Pope's German housekeeper come under investigation

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