Fact file: Previous Pope resignations

Previous Popes to have resigned:

  • Pope St. Pontian resigned as Pope on September 28, 235
  • Pope Benedict IX left the position in 1045.
  • Pope Celestine V in 1294.
  • Pope Gregory XII was the last to resign from the role in 1415.

The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states, on resignation:

If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone.

– Canon 332, No. 2

However, the expectation when a Pope is elected that he will remain in office until his death.

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Pope thankful for 'prayers'

The Pope has made his first appearance at St Peter's Square window since his resignation announcement and thanked the faithful for their "prayers and support."