Catholics woke up to stunning news across the country today -- the leader of the church, Pope Benedict the 16th announced today through a letter that he will be stepping down at the end of the month.
The move is not unprecedented...but you have to go way back to find the last Pope to resign.
It was in the year 1415 -- 600 years ago during the middle ages when the last pope announced his resignation.
Pope Benedict says the reason is his inability to fulfill his ministry because of ailing health.
Many local Catholics were certainly taken by surprise at the announcement...
(Fr. Fred Harvey - Little Flower Catholic Church) "He has talked about this for months and almost a year that he may think about resigning but we haven't heard anything about that in our time and so as we thought about it...I didn't think he would resign so waking up to it is like, whoa, what happened here?!
Leaders and followers alike were shocked at the news today.
For longtime Catholic Grace Fisher, the news had her talking about her appreciation for Pope Benedict, and the direction he has taken the church in his time as its leader...
(Grace Fisher - St. Leo's Catholic Church Parishioner) "Anything that one reads that he has written strikes you that, he is the Catholic that Christ envisioned...that is just my sense of it."
Benedict became Pope in April of 2005 following the death of John Paul the Second.