MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - According to the Associated Press, Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties and will resign Feb. 28.
He will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The pope cited health issues and "advanced age" as the reasons for his decision.
Most Rev. Thomas Rodi, the Archbishop of Mobile, spoke to FOX10 News about the resignation.
"I heard the news early this morning, and it was quite a surprise," said Rodi.
A local Catholic, Ginny Jost, also learned early this morning the Pope resigned.
"My first question was, 'Well what happens next? Who is coming to step up to the plate?' And I don't know how long that takes; but hopefully; we will get that all figured out soon," said Jost.
Rodi told us about 120 Cardinals will choose the next Pope.
"And these Cardinals, as they are called, will gather in Rome. They will gather in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. They will gather behind locked doors, and they will pray, and they will discuss, and they will vote. And eventually, someone will receive two-thirds of the vote and will be elected the new Pope," said Archbishop Rodi.
Although the Archbishop said the pope's resignation is unusual for the church, it is not against its rules. He said the Book of Church Law, which governs the procedures of the church, allows the pontiff to resign.
"(He can resign) just by announcing it of his own free will. But even though that is in the Book of Church Law, even though it's allowed, it is something that just is very rarely done," said Archbishop Rodi.
But before there is a new Pope, people are still trying understand pope Benedict XVI's reasons for leaving. He said it's because he lacks the strength to do the job.
"I think it's an honorable thing to sit down, you know it hasn't happened in 600 years or something. To be able to confess that, admit that to yourself, I think is really bold," said Eric Dooley.
The archbishop said now is a time for the Catholic Church to pray for the next leader.
"Let us pray first for Pope Benedict in this time of transition for him, and let us pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals in electing the man that the Holy Spirit wants elected as Pope," Rodi said.
The archbishop said he considered the resignation "an act of love" for the Catholic Church.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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