Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will resign Feb. 28. "My strengths ... are no longer suited" to the papacy, he said.
A top Vatican official blamed the media for "derailing" his recent remarks on possible legal protections for unmarried couples that potentially included gay and lesbian couples.
It was the first time a rock group was the "opening act" of a plenary assembly -- usually a routine, speech-filled affair.
In his first public appearance since arriving in Rome, the new Vatican prosecutor for sexual abuse cases in the Catholic church praised the media's role in uncovering the scandal.
American priest Robert Oliver was chosen in December by Pope Benedict XVI to replace Fr. Charles Scicluna as "promoter of justice" at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after Scicluna was appointed a bishop in Malta.
"All of us -- every single person has difficulty coming to understand what this really is and how prevalent it is in our societies across the world," said Fr. Robert Oliver.
A Vatican official on Monday voiced support for giving unmarried couples some kind of legal protection even as he reaffirmed the Catholic church's opposition to same-sex marriage.
Pope Benedict XVI asked nuns, brothers and priests not to listen to the "prophets of doom" who say consecrated life has no future or that it has no meaning in today's world.
"Do not join the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or the lack of meaning of consecrated life in today's church; rather clothe yourselves with Jesus Christ and put on the armor of light ... remaining awake and vigilant," Pope Benedict told consecrated virgins and men and women who belong to religious orders.
Two months after receiving their red hats, the six newest members of the College of Cardinals have received their assignments as members of Vatican congregations, councils and offices -- one of the clearest ways they help Pope Benedict XVI govern the universal church.
While keeping their main jobs, the new assignments allow the cardinals to bring their experience and perspective to bear on the discussions and decisions of the central church offices that assist the pope.
Speaking to the members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, Benedict said "lack of faith" on the part of the spouses can affect the validity of a marriage.
An estimated 250 protesters demonstrated Sunday evening in Dublin at a vigil outside the papal nunciature in support of the restoration to ministry of Irish Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery.