Local leaders weigh in on Pope Benedict XVI's resignation - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Caught Off-Guard: Catholic Church leaders react to Pope's news

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(FOX19) -

Caught off guard. That was the reaction of Catholic Church leaders after hearing the news on Monday morning.

"It's not something that I was expecting, and I would suspect that most of the people in the Catholic Church weren't suspecting it either," said Bishop Joe Binzer of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic Church on Monday after announcing his resignation. The last pope to do so was in the year 1415.

"Since it's brand new, there's very little details knowing about what's happening and especially what's going to happen," said Barry Windholtz, Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains.

Although church leaders were saddened by the news, some expressed understanding.

"I know my body is not what it used to be, so whatever age he is currently,  obviously it's a big job with a lot of responsibility," said Windoltz.

The Pope is 85-years-old and says his health is declining. Some say there was talk this would happen, and commend him for making a humble decision.

Father William Fitzgerald, who served as the priest for the Diocese of Covington for five years says although many saw the Pope's health decline, it was still a shock to hear of his resignation.

Pope Benedict XVI held the position for 8 years, and although he will no longer be the Bishop of Rome at the end of the month, church leaders say his legacy will continue for a lifetime.

"He was a man who was deeply in love with the church and had the church's interest at heart," said Barry.

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