Written by Andrew Forgotch
Last updated on February 11, 2013 @ 7:43PM
Created on February 11, 2013 @ 6:32PM
The spiritual leader of the Catholic Church surprised most of the the world on Monday morning when he announced his plans to resign at the end of the month.
Pope Benedict XVI cited his advanced age as the reason he's stepping down.
It's the first time in a pope has stepped down in nearly 600 years.
One person that was also shocked when the announcement was made was Father Vincent Joseph, the pastor at Saint Luke's Catholic Church in Cheat Lake.
Joseph met and talked to Benedict when he studied in Rome.
According to a family friend, Benedict has actually been considering stepping down for some time.
The last time a pope resigned was in the early 1400's. In that case Gregory XII left to stop a civil war within the church.
Joseph told 5 News that he got to know Benedict before he became pope. Joseph said that he's a wise man, and someone the church is going to miss at it's spiritual leader.
"He's a man of great wisdom and knowledge," Joseph said. "He knows what is right and what kind of leadership the church has to have. Spiritually he's still well and his mind is sound. He's still writing beautifully about the teachings of the church."
Joseph also mentioned there's nothing that says the pope can't resign.
A lot of other Catholics in the area seem to support Benedict's decision to step down.
Kathy Frank, a Westover resident, said he's being very realistic about his physical limitations.
"With his age and his failing health I give him credit for planning ahead and being proactive," Frank said.
The announcement that Benedict is stepping down came just a few days before the start of the Lenten season, the holy season in the Catholic Church, which begins with Ash Wednesday.
After Benedict made his announcement officials with the church said they hope to have a new pope before Easter, which is at the end of April.
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