ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The Cathedral in St. Augustine is buzzing with the news about Pope Benedict XVI's resignation. The Pope made the announcement early Monday. He is the first person in nearly 600 years to do so.
The announcement has caused quite a stir among Catholics. "Pretty much shocked. It sounds like it's pretty historical because most of them die," says Catholic Cece Kramer. "I was very surprised for it to make the news the way it did. And to have a pope retire is quite unusual," says Catholic Terry Kramer.
The 85-year-old pope says it is his health that was the driving factor behind this decision.
Father Tom Willis, with the Diocese of St. Augustine, says he doesn't think Pope Benedict XVI made the decision lightly. He says being a pope today has a lot of responsibility. "The Pope has, in his heart, the needs of society and the cares and concerns that people are going through whether that's because of school shootings, earthquakes or tornados. He prays intensely for these people and that has an affect on one," says Father Tom Willis.
Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. The Vatican Conclave will now begin the search for his replacement. "Someone is going to come out who in all likelihood has similar leanings as Benedict the 16th and so indeed can finish up the papacy that Pope Benedict has left," says Father Tom Willis.
The conclave of cardinals will elect a new pope before the end of March.