In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Mons. Franco Comaldo, left, a pope aide, looks at Pope Benedict XVI as he reads a document in Latin where he announces his resignation, during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, at the Vatican, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign Feb. 28 - the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.
VATICAN CITY - - A French cardinal says Pope Benedict's decision to resign is a "liberating act" for future popes.
The pontiff told a meeting of cardinals today that he will be resigning at the end of this month, becoming the first pope to step down in 600 years. He said the duties of being pope require "strength of mind and body," and that he simply isn't strong enough anymore.
Benedict is 85. His brother says doctors recently advised the pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.
A successor will be chosen next month.
The archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, says popes from now on will not feel compelled to stay on until their death. He says Benedict, in a sense, "broke a taboo" against resigning.
Another cardinal, Christoph Schoenborn -- the archbishop of Vienna -- calls it a "historic moment" for the church. Schoenborn -- a protege of Benedict who is considered a papal contender himself -- says Catholics around the world are "holding their breath."
Another possible contender to succeed Benedict is Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan.