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Pope shocks Catholic world with resignation announcement

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Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday he will resign this month because of his advancing age in a fast-changing world, becoming the first pontiff in 700 years to step down of his own free will. 

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Pope Benedict XVI, on Saturday at the Vatican. AFP

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Pope announces shock resignation in historic move

By Jean-Louis De La Vaissiere (AFP)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday he will resign this month because of his advancing age in a fast-changing world, becoming the first pontiff in 700 years to step down of his own free will.

The 85-year-old said he will step down on February 28 after just eight years in office, making his one of the shortest pontificates in modern history and stunning the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

The German-born leader made the announcement in a speech in Latin at a meeting with cardinals in his residence in the Apostolic Palace, with his frail voice barely audible as he read a pre-written text.

"I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he said.

As tributes poured in from across the world, the Vatican emphasised the former Joseph Ratzinger was not leaving due to any illness, despite speculation over his frail appearance in recent months.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he expected a conclave of cardinals to be held in March within 15 or 20 days of the resignation and a new pope elected before Easter Sunday on March 31.

"The pope caught us a bit by surprise," Lombardi said at a hastily-arranged press conference.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was at the historic meeting with the pope, described the announcement as "a bolt of lightning in a clear blue sky".

Benedict's brother Georg Ratzinger told AFP he had known "for a few months" that he was planning to resign and was "feeling the burden of his age."

Vatican observers have already begun speculating over who could succeed Benedict, with online betters tipping an African pope as the most likely.

In the period between the resignation and the election of a new pope, the Catholic Church will be governed by Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.

The closed-door conclave of cardinals is held in the Sistine Chapel and its decision is famously announced with a puff of black or white smoke to indicate whether a nominee has been selected or not.

The new pope is then announced immediately afterwards with the cry "Habemus Papam" and appears before the crowds of faithful in St Peter's Square.

Pope (also pontiff) – the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who is also the Bishop of Rome สันตะปาปา, โป๊ป, สังฆราช
shock – to surprise, or frighten someone ทำให้ตกใจ, ทำให้สั่นสะเทือน
resignation – the act of leaving a job, position of power, etc. การลาออกจากตำแหน่ง
historic – of historical importance ที่สำคัญในประวัติศาสตร์
advancing age – old age, i.e., a person is becoming very old
of his own free will – willingly; without being forced
pontificate – the official position or period in office of a pope ตำแหน่งสังฆราชสันตะปาปา
stun – to surprise or shock somebody so much that they cannot think clearly or speak ทำให้ตะลึงงัน,  ทำให้งง
cardinal – a priest of the highest rank in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinals elect and advise the Pope พระในศาสนาคริสต์ที่มีลำดับชั้นสูงสุด
residence – a place where someone lives ที่พำนัก ที่อาศัย
frail – physically weak and thin  อ่อนแอ
barely – only just; almost not เกือบจะไม่
audible – able to be heard ซึ่งดังพอที่จะได้ยินได้
suit – to be right or good for somebody/something   เหมาะกับ
adequate – good enough or large enough for a particular purpose พอเพียง
exercise – to use ใช้
ministry – the work and duties of a minister in the Church; the period of time spent working as a minister in the Church
tribute – something that you do, say, or build to show that you respect and admire someone or something การแสดงความเคารพ ยกย่องต่อ
emphasise – to stress something such as an idea, fact or detail; to explain or show why something is important เน้น
speculation – ideas or discussion about what might happen or has happened or why something has happened without having complete information การคาดการณ์
appearance – the way that somebody/something looks on the outside  ลักษณะภายนอก, การปรากฏตัว
conclave – a meeting to discuss something in private; the people at this meeting  การประชุมลับ
Easter – (in the Christian religion) a Sunday in March or April when Christians remember the death of Christ and his return to life  เทศกาลอีสเตอร์ของคริสต์ศาสนา
hastily – hurriedly; quickly อย่างรีบเร่ง
press conference – an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it การแถลงข่าว
a bolt of lightning – a sudden flash of lightning in the sky, appearing as a line แสงแปลบปลาบของฟ้าแล็บ
a bolt of lightning in a clear blue sky – a complete surprise; something completely unexpected
burden – a serious or difficult responsibility that you have to deal with  ภาระ
observer – a person who watches and analyses a situation ผู้สังเกตการณ์
bet – to risk money on a race or an event by trying to predict the result  พนัน
better – someone who bets, i.e., risks money; gambler นักพนัน
tip – to say that something is likely to happen คาดการณ์
period – a particular length of time  ระยะเวลา
chapel – a separate part of a temple or church โบสถ์เล็ก, ห้องสวดมนต์
puff – a small amount of air, smoke, etc. that is blown from somewhere
indicate – to show that something is true, exists or will happen แสดง, ทำให้รู้
nominee – someone who has been formally proposed for a job ผู้ได้รับการเสนอชื่อ  
select – to choose  คัดเลือก
faithful – the people who support a particular religion, political party, group, sports team, musician etc ผู้ที่มีศรัทธา, ผู้จงรักภักดี

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