On Monday (Feb. 11), Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement saying that he would resign at the end of the month.

This makes him the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, according to Vatican Radio. And of the more than 260 men to have served as the leader of the Catholic Church, he will be one of only a handful to resign before the end of his life.

Jane Donovan, a West Virginia University in the Religious Studies Program, is available to offer commentary on this announcement. She specializes in the history of Christianity and has written seven books and many articles on American religious history in particular. Her research interests include the interaction between religion and politics in the U.S., the history of the theology of Christian hospitality and the ideological/political divide in modern mainline churches.

She can be reached by calling her office at 304.293.7739 (or if that fails, her cell phone at 304.376.9896) or e-mailing Jane.Donovan@mail.wvu.edu .



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