Local Catholics react to Benedict's resignation

On Monday morning, the world's one billion Catholics awakened to surprising news.

Pope Benedict XVI is resigning February 28 because he says he no longer has the "strength of mind and body" to do the job.

It's been almost 600 years since a pope resigned the papacy.

The 85-year-old pontiff currently travels to the altar in St. Peter's Basilica on a moving platform to spare him the walk down the aisle.

He sometimes uses a cane.

His brother says the pope's doctor had advised him to make no more transatlantic flights.

In short, Pope Benedict XVI can no longer do all that is expected.

"I'm not surprised. It makes a lot of sense," says Father Mitchell Pacwa.

Pacwa has been a priest for 36 years. He describes his reaction when hearing Pope Benedict would be stepping down and his admiration for the Pope in doing what's best for the Catholic Church. "(Benedict) is more concerned with being pope for the sake of service, than being pope for the sake of a legacy," says Pacwa.Michael Warsaw, CEO of the Eternal Word Television Network says Benedict will always be remembered as one of the Catholic Church's finest minds.

"I think we were all, in the Catholic community and the world in general, were shocked to hear the news. I don't think it came as a tremendous surprise that he would take this act," says Warsaw. "At the end of the day, he will always be remembered for his strong teaching, for his attempts to engage the secular world in a conversation about faith and the meaning of faith in an increasingly secular world."At Prince of Peace Catholic School, assistant principal Katie King says teachers are using this historical event in the Catholic faith, as a learning experience. "Teaching (students) or re-teaching them about how the pope is selected,and what contributions Pope Benedict has given to our great community as well, and watch alongside as the whole world watches, who his successor will be," says King.Thomas James, a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. Paul hopes Benedict's successor will help the church continue to grow. "This is a huge transition," says James. "Pope Benedict XVI was the prominent theologian for decades and has made an enormous and a wonderful impact."{}

A in statement from Bishop Robert Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham says in part,{} "I join the universal church in extending our gratitude to our holy father for his remarkable pastoral leadership carried out with profound wisdom, great calm, and immense compassion for all his flock and for the entire world."