THE Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict XVI is to resign on February 28 after almost eight years in the post.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said: “The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8pm on February 28.”

He will be the first head of the Catholic Church to resign in almost 600 years.

Pope Benedict XVI last visited Spain in August 2011 but faced complaints about the high cost of the event during Spain’s economic fragility.

It was argued that the six-day event to celebrate World Youth Day would cost around €50million. However government spokesman Jose Blanco, claimed that the 1.5 million pilgrims would generate 100 million euros for Spain’s economy.

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