Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign from office. His announcement, as provided by the Vatican, cites his advanced age as a primary factor.
"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," wrote the Pope.
"It came as a shock to all of us," said Father Bob Grodnicki of the St. Luke Roman Catholic Church in Toms River. The Father said that he had received no advance notification about the Pope's decision and found out by watching the news, much like the rest of the world.
The Bishop of Trenton, Rev. David M. O'Connell, noted the news came on a significant day in the Roman Catholic calendar, and that Lent begins this week, making the news even more "stunning."
"On this World Day of the Sick, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the world awoke to the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to resign the papacy, effective February 28, 2013. Having been appointed Bishop of Trenton by him and, before that, approved as President of the Catholic University of America, I feel a genuine closeness to him. I was so honored to welcome him to Washington during my tenure," O'Connell said in a prepared statement released by the Archdiocese.
Pope Benedict is the first to resign his position in centuries. For Grodnicki, the Pope's stepping aside shows that he "has to love the church to do this."
"Our generation has seen things that no other has seen before," said Grodnicki, who is in his 60s. The resignation of the Pope can be added to a series of monumental events that people never thought they'd witness, such as the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and man landing on the moon.
"All these things that never happened before have," Grodnicki said. "I think that's just incredible."
The Bishop said he has a love for the Pope and that the admiration begun before he was a cardinal.
"Over the years in both his role as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pope, I have come to love and admire him greatly. He had an incredible ability to make the most profound and intense aspects of our faith clear and accessible not only to Catholics but to all people. Pope Benedict XVI helped the world understand Catholicism. In my mind, he was an absolutely inspired choice to succeed Blessed Pope John Paul II, both for his theological teaching and for his fatherly pastoral presence. I have always found him to be gentle and kind, despite the contrary perception created by some," he said.
As Saint Denis did in its announcement, the Bishop also asked others to pray for Pope Benedict XVI.
"While I feel some sadness at the announcement, I think we can all see the courage and devotion of this great man to our Church and to the Ministry of Peter that he would hand over the reins of the Church to someone stronger and more vibrant than he at the age of nearly 86. In a world where power and influence are sought after and held tightly, this passing of the papal crozier speaks volumes about Pope Benedict XVI's humility and desire that the Catholic Church be led effectively and well," he said.