PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There was some shocking news from the Vatican Monday morning as Pope Benedict XVI announced he will resign at the end of the month.
The 85-year-old pontiff cited advanced age and diminishing strength as his reasons for stepping down.
He will be the first pope to leave the papacy in nearly 600 years.
The pope said carrying out the duties of being the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics requires both “strength of mind and body” and both are failing.
The news shocked Catholics across the world, including the large population in Pittsburgh.
The word out of the Vatican this morning resonated all the way to St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.
“I’m really in shock. He’s a beautiful person and he’s given us so much,” Donna Scuilli said.
Many of the worshipers in their pews had no idea that the man who leads their faith was resigning.
BIshop David Zubik read the pope’s statement as to why he was walking away.
“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,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a statement.
However a pope’s resignation is not unheard of.
“That’s the first time in a long time. I’m just shocked,” Tom Joyce said.
The first pontiff to literally resign was Celestine in 1294. The next was Gregory XII in 1415.
“Maybe it’s a good thing. I’m sure it’s not an easy thing to resign, but maybe he felt in his heart it was the right thing to do,” Theresa John said.
Now Pittsburgh’s Catholics and those across the world wait to see who will guide the church.
“It doesn’t matter. As long as it’s somebody who can motivate people and inspire people to come closer to God, it truly doesn’t matter who it is,” John said.
Zubik said he was surprised, but having seen the pope in October, he could see the Holy Father was significantly diminished in his capacities.