Local Catholic leaders were ‘completely shocked” Monday at news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.
“We’re all really shocked,” said the Rev. Lancelot Reis, pastor of St. Virgil's Church in Morris Plains and St. Virgil's Academy. “He’s a very logical, intellectual person. It’s not a decision he took lightly. It’s something that I think he thought out I’m sure.”
Benedict is the first pope to resign the office in 600 years. Gregory XII in 1415 was the last pope to resign before Benedict.
The pontiff said that he would resign at the end of the month “because of advanced age,” CNN.com reported Monday.
Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger, was appointed to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics in 2005. He is 85.
There was some discussion that John Paul II would retire due to health reasons, but ultimately decided to remain as Pontiff.
“We’re praying that the next man who takes the reins does a good job,” Reis said.