The Vatican confirmed Monday morning that Pope Benedict XVI is set to resign at the end of the month.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger's papacy began in 2005.
The Pope released a statement that said his strength and health are no longer adequate for him to continue serving as leader of the Catholic church.
The 85-year-old Pope said he is resigning in "full freedom" and understands the seriousness of his decision.
In a press conference, the Pope's spokesman said under church law, the Pope is able to resign. Pope Gregory XII in 1415 was the last to leave the papacy.
The spokesman said he expects the conclave will have a new Pope elected by the end of March.