When and why did Pope Benedict XVI resign?

Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 9, 2013, four days before his final Mass. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)
6 min

In the past 10 years, the Catholic Church has been focused on Pope Francis, his rapid internationalizing of church leadership and shift of focus from matters of gender and sex to those of poverty, inequality and climate. But Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement in 2013 that he would essentially retire felt earth-shattering at the time.

He was the first pope to do so in many centuries, rocking his image as the ultra-traditionalist and opening the door to the idea of the papacy as a complex human job.

Here’s what we know about his resignation.

The death of Pope Benedict XVI

The latest: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died Saturday at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery within Vatican City. His death could reshape the Catholic Church. Here’s a look at his life in pictures.

Benedict’s legacy: Benedict was the first pope to resign in 600 years and his decision to step down transformed his legacy. These are some his most significant — and controversial — quotes.

The funeral: The funeral Mass for Pope Benedict will take place on Thursday, Jan. 5, but not all papal funeral traditions may apply to an ex-pope. Here’s what we know about the funeral so far.