It was a shock to Catholics around the world: In 600 years, there has not been a resignation of their pope. But Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be stepping down at the end of the month.
"I have come to certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he said from the Vatican.
Local Catholics say they admire Pope Benedict even more now than they did before. Marian Baird explained, "I think what a truly humble servant he is, that he loves our church so much that he didn't let pride get in the way and he's going to pass on the reigns."
Nancy Adamo says it must have been a difficult decision for the Pontiff.
"I think we have a troubled world. There's lots going on right now. And he is getting up in age. And he himself knows how he feels physically, mentally and if he cares about the Catholic Church the way I think, this is the step he feels is necessary."
Pope Benedict was shrouded in controversy over the sex abuse scandal. He never admitted failure by the Vatican. And many critics disagreed with that.
But many believe he did push for changes.
"I think in some ways, there were things going on in the Vatican that he couldn't foresee or control. But [he's] a great pope and one day I think he'll be canonized as a saint," said Chuck Kuntz.
Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg first met him in 1989 when he was still Cardinal Josef Ratzinger.
Lynch believes this is probably the best decision the pope could have made.
"Yes, probably, for him and for the church. I think he served it well. And could he have stayed on and would the church have suffered? No. Would he have suffered? Yeah. So I think it is a good thing for him certainly. And for us, if he just doesn't have the energy to give to it."
Many Catholics are hopeful for their new spiritual leader.
"I want the church to go forward and maintain its principles and not give in to modern pressures to compromise its principles," Matthew Vuskovich said.
There are no clear frontrunners to succeed Pope Benedict.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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