Pope a 'charming, shy conservative'
Pope Benedict XVI photographed in 2010. The pontiff is to resign his office after declaring he was too old to carry on as head of the Catholic Church. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire
Pope Benedict XVI has a reputation as a charming and shy man who is also deeply conservative in his outlook and teaching.
The German-born pontiff (85), who is resigning due to his age and diminishing strength, was elected to the papacy in 2005, only the second non-Italian Pope since 1522 and the oldest on election since the 18th century.
The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.
But Pope Benedict’s decision to retire should not come as too much of a surprise.
He said after he was elected to the Papacy that he had prayed not to get the post and was hoping for a peaceful old age.
As the powerful Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was already well-known within the Catholic world before his election to the top job.