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Precedents for papal resignations

In this September 1978 file photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency KNA, Albanian-born Mother Teresa, left, and German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, right, attend a Mass during the 85th German Catholics Day in Freiburg, southern Germany, from Sept. 13-19, 1978. Ratzinger was elected Pope, April 19, 2005 and chose Benedict XVI as his papal name. Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, he would resign Feb. 28 because he is simply too old to carry on. (Associated Press file photo)
In this September 1978 file photo provided by the German Catholic News Agency KNA, Albanian-born Mother Teresa, left, and German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, right, attend a Mass during the 85th German Catholics Day in Freiburg, southern Germany, from Sept. 13-19, 1978. Ratzinger was elected Pope, April 19, 2005 and chose Benedict XVI as his papal name. Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, he would resign Feb. 28 because he is simply too old to carry on. (Associated Press file photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, February 11, 2013 09:55 am
The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down on Feb. 28. While such papal resignations are extremely rare, there are precedents in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church.— Marcellinus: This early church pope abdicated or was deposed in 304 after complying with the Roman emperor's order to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.

— Benedict IX: Sold the papacy to his godfather Gregory VI and resigned in 1045.

—Celestine V: Overwhelmed by the demands of the office, this hermetic pontiff stepped down after five months as pope in 1294. Pope Benedict XVI prayed at his tomb in the central Italian city of L'Aquila in 2009.

—Gregory XII: The last pope to resign, Gregory XII stepped down in 1415 to help end a church schism.

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