HOUSTON (CBS Houston)Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to resign Thursday, ending an eight-year pontificate. The last pope to resign left the church to end schism.

As bells tolled, the Swiss Guards stood at attention in Castel Gandolfo and then shut the doors of the palazzo shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday (2 p.m. EST).

Their actions marked the closing out a papacy. The pope’s journey into retirement began with a symbolic good-bye from the Vatican and with Swiss Guards in full regalia and prelates kneeling to kiss Benedict’s papal ring one last time.

Benedict leaves behind a church in crisis. From the fallout of the sex abuse scandals to a Vatican torn by divisions, Pope Benedict XVI stated that there was also a crisis of faith, with baptized Catholics believing that they can do without God.

In this modern day of social media, the Pope also said goodbye on his Twitter page. He wrote: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.” The page was then deleted.

So, who was the last pope to resign? Pope Gregory XII was the last pope to resign from the Vatican.

Gregory XII vacated the office during a period of turmoil inside the Catholic church.

Benedict who tried to address questions after his resignation, stated that once retired he would be “hidden from the world” and devote his life to prayer.

On Monday, the cardinals are scheduled to begin meeting to set the date for the conclave.


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