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Benedict XVI seemed at ease as he led the general audience at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall

Pope Benedict XVI will leave the papal seat empty on February 28 (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI has left the Church with a rich body of teaching and a shining example in humility and steadfastness

Benedict XVI waving to the crowd in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

Pope’s announcement stuns world leaders

Politicians and Christian leaders pay tribute to Benedict XVI’s humility and love of the Church

Pope Benedict XVI during the meeting with cardinals in which he made his announcement (Photo: CNS)

Religious leaders express their surprise – including even the Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi

The Pope makes his announcement at a meeting of Vatican cardinals (Photo: PA)

Pope will step down for health reasons on February 28