URGENT ¥¥¥ Benedict XVI becomes first pope to resign in 700 years

Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign in 700 years at 1900 GMT on Thursday, ending a turbulent eight-year reign often overshadowed by Vatican infighting and a raft of sex abuse scandals.

The 85-year-old German theologian is only the second pope in the Church's 2,000-year history to resign of his own free will, announcing to a stunned world on February 11 that he felt he no longer had the "strength of mind and body" to carry on.

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