February 11, 2013— -- On Monday, the Pope put in his two weeks notice. Or something like it.
Pope Benedict XVI announced on that he would resign on the last day of the month after serving under eight years in the post. This will be the first time a Pope steps down from the Roman Catholic Church in almost six centuries. The 85-year old attributed his decision to his declining health.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, 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 told the cardinals in a Monday gathering.
Benedict has been the head of the Catholic church since 2005, and succeeded Pope John Paull II. A new pope is expected to be elected by mid-March.
In spite of his rather short tenure, Benedict XVI has had a distinct impact. Here are the five he'll be remembered for:
1. His Conservative Stances
Pope Benedict XVI has been widely considered a conservative religious leader, asserting that Catholicism is "true" and in direct competition with Islam. He has stated that other religions are "deficient," and has made a push to bring "the Gospel of Jesus Christ anew to the world, especially in the West." He is also vehemently opposed to homosexuality and the induction of female priests.
2. The Clerical Abuse Scandal
Controversy over the sex abuse cases consumed much of Benedict's papacy, and how he handled it will always be a part of his legacy. Reports emerged in 2010 that Benedict XVI attempted to keep a convicted child-molesting priest in his post in 1985 when he served as a Cardinal in Germany. "He cited the priest's relative youth but also the good of the church" for pushing to keep the priest in his position, according to The New York Times.
In 2011, a group of sex abuse victims called for the Pope to be tried for crimes against humanity for allegedly covering up pleas of abuse at the international criminal court.
3. Return to Latin
In November of 2012, Benedict established an academy dedicated to reviving the long-dead language of Latin inside and outside the Catholic Church. He maintained at the time that familiarity with Latin language and culture was of great importance for understanding the bible.
4. Social Media Outreach
While Benedict XVI stressed the importance of some of the Catholic Church's oldest traditions, he wasn't scared to try out some new technologies. In December of 2012, Benedict launched his personal Twitter account (@pontifex) in at least eight languages, including English, Arabic, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. He has 1.5 million followers on his English language account, but he himself only follows eight other accounts. Oh, and they're all his own accounts. #papalswag
5. His Comparatively Short Term
Benedict XVI will undoubtedly be remembered for the relative brevity of his tenure. The last Pope to resign was Gregory XII, who resigned in 1415 to help end the Great Western Schism, when there were multiple popes vying for the post. Church law technically doesn't permit a papal resignation, if he is mentally sound and not forced out. But it happens. And, according to theological experts, if a pope chooses to resign, under canon law, no one is allowed to tell him he can't.