Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign from his position as pope at the end of February, news sources report.
NBC News reports that the pope made his announcement Monday morning at an address at the "Concistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto". Citing his age as his reason for resignation, the 85-year-old will be the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
According to NBC News, the Vatican will elect a new pope by mid-March. There is no obvious choice for who will replace Pope Benedict XVI, but those in contention include the archbishop of Milan, the archbishop of Vienna, and the Canadian head of the Vatican's office for bishops.
Pope Benedict XVI began his papacy in 2005, reports CNN. During his time as pope, the Catholic Church received a great deal of criticism regarding sex abuse scandals involving priests. In response to this, Benedict issued new church rules regarding sex abuse and the handling of it in 2010.
Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN that the pope plans to retire to a quiet life of prayer and reflection.