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Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi says Pope “took us by surprise”, indicating that even closest aides did not know.
Pope Benedict XVI to Resign on February 28 Citing Lack of ‘Strength’ to Go On.
The pope also announced in the statement that he would renounce the office of Bishop of Rome at 8pm on 28 February.
He says a conclave will have to be convened to elect the new pope
Here’s the canon law on the case of pope resignation: “It should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office (munus), it is required for validity that he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone.”