It's a first in almost 600 years. The pope says he's stepping down.
Pope Benedict the 16th announced his decision Monday morning during a small meeting of Vatican cardinals. The 85-year-old told them he didn't feel he could continue leading the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.
"In order to govern the barque 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," said Benedict.
The pope said he'll step down 8:00 p.m., February 28th, Rome time. Gregory the 12th was the last to pope resign in 1415.
In Sioux City, stats show more than 22% of the population is Catholic. And the resignation shocked them, from bishops and priests, to parishioners.
"That was the news that I woke up to. I was half asleep and I checked to make sure it wasn't April Fools' Day," said Tucker Lutter.
"I was just kind of shocked. There wasn't any kind of inclination he was going to do that. You just think he's going to stay there until he dies," said Charlotte Thoma.
It was a hard day for fellow parishioner, Brandon Harvey. He's such a fan of the pontiff, Harvey named his 10-month-old son Benedict. He says the pope's early exit put tears in his eyes.
"I will not lie. My wife made me get out of bed and take a shower because I was crying a little bit. I was happy and sad. A big part, a selfish part, I wanted to meet him so bad," said Harvey.
In afternoon mass, priests took time to address the matter. At the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Father Brent Lingle encouraged prayer and reassured his congregation. He told folks despite many questions surrounding the departure, everything will be all right.
"Remain calm. The church has been at this 2,000 years, and will continue to be at it. Even though we haven't had the resignation of a pope for 600 years, there are things in place. The church will carry on," said Lingle.
Some church leaders have already started speculating who'll succeed Benedict. Sioux City Bishop R. Walker Nickless doesn't have a name, but says it needs to be someone with more youth to handle a complicated world.
"This world needs a young, energetic leader, in terms of the Roman Catholic Church, to help the world understand these complex issues that we live in," said Bishop Nickless.
The Catholic Church says they plan to have a new leader by the end of March. To do that, officials will go through a process called papal conclave, a meeting of the College of Cardinals to elect a new pope.
The Associated Press reports the Vatican will summon the group of cardinals to begin conclave 15 to 20 days after Benedict's February resignation. Of the more than 200 cardinals in the college, only 117 are under the age of 80, thus eligible to vote.
Any baptized Roman Catholic male is eligible for election as pope, but since 1378 onlycardinalshave been picked.
It takes a two-third's majority for any candidate to be elected.
Among the electors choosing, a former Catholic leader from Sioux City.
In 2007, Pope Benedict elevated Cardinal Daniel DiNardo to the College of Cardinals. Currently, the 63-year-old DiNardo serves as the Archbishop of the Galveston-Houston diocese. But, from 1998 to 2004, he served as Bishop of Sioux City.
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