Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

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(Memphis) Catholics around the Mid-South Monday woke-up to news that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to step-down at the end of the month.

The Catholic Diocese of Memphis says they were "stunned" by the announcement.

Pope Benedict is the first Pope to resign in 600 year so it definitely wasn't expected but some Catholics say they thought it was certainly a possibility.

“He’s extremely humble and he shows us how to be humble,” said Sharon Masterson, communications director of St. Benedict High School.

Masterson says the Pope's decision to step-down is just another sign of his humility, “That’s a big decision for a man who has such great prominence in our world.”

At age 85, Pope Benedict says he's just too weak to continue his duties as Holy Father.

He announced he'll resign February 28th.

“I was sitting in the car and I turned-up the radio thinking I misheard it and I was just so shocked,” said Senior Alex Thompson.  “I came to school and prayed a little bit.”

Seventeen year-old Trey Haff says he actually got to see the Pope in person when he traveled to Madrid in 2011 for the World Youth Conference, “We stayed in an air field and the pope was on the stage. I was about a mile away from him but I still got to see him. He looked really old. He was in great health but he did look old.”

Trey says he hopes the next Pope will lead the Catholic Church with as much passion as Pope Benedict.

Some believe his resignation leaves Catholics with an opportunity.

“We have a month to think about it,” said Masterson.  “We have a month to pray. Normally it's through illness and death that we have a pope leave us.”

Masterson says whomever cardinals choose in March to replace Pope Benedict, it will be meant to be.

After all, Catholics believe the pope is ultimately chosen by the Holy Spirit

Terry Steib, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, who met with the Pope last year, released this statement Monday, “I am sorry to hear the news that he's retiring because I think he has served the church well. In our meetings he was always gracious and kind. He always listened intently to what we bishops had to say.”


Here is the text of Pope Benedict's declaration:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013