John Allen in Rome: Benedict's decision to resign has both won wide praise and raised a whole rafter of questions.
Following his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI will move to a monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican, the Vatican spokesperson has stated.
Four clarifications about the pope's resignation were sent this morning by Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson:
Pope Benedict XVI has given his resignation freely, in accordance with Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law.
Pope Benedict XVI will not take part in the Conclave for the election of his successor.
The pope's resignation is a "sign of his great care for the Church," the president of the U.S. bishops' conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, said in a statement this morning.
"We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter," wrote Dolan at the U.S. bishops' conference website.
Dolan's full statement, available here, follows:
Statement of Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he planned to resign Feb. 28 stunned and shocked religious leaders around the world.
Analysis: Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he will resign Feb. 28. But is that allowed? Has it happened before?
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.