Catholics around the world — and at home — awoke to the news this morning that Pope Benedict XVI announced he is stepping down from his role as the spiritual leader of the Catholic church on Feb. 28 due of his health.
That makes him the first pontiff in more than 600 years to resign the post, rather than remaining in the role for his lifetime.
Yet, the pope gave reasons for retiring that many would think that, at age 85, make a lot of sense, including note of his advanced age.
"I think its admirable to resign at his age. He truly cannot uphold his duties and I think its a good idea to resign and let someone else take over instead of dieing (sic) in office," said Dana Dreher on the Jefferson Patch Facebook page. "I also think these Popes are just too old but I do understand that majority if not all of the Popes elected have been Cardinals prior."
For others, the surprising news came with a lack of answers.
"I never heard of a pope stepping down, I command of thinking of his health, he has done so much for the Catholic church, now who will come take his place, kind of SAD," said Rose Shepherd on the Jefferson Patch Facebook page.
Do you think that Pope Benedict put the needs of the church above his own by resigning at this time? Or do you feel he should have continued his commitment as pope for his lifetime?
What do you think will be this pope's legacy? Do you feel that many American Catholics were touched by his spiritual leadership?
And finally, what would you like to see in a new pope, who reportedly may be named by Easter?
What qualities do you think are important in a pope to lead the world's Catholics in the 21st century?
Tell us in the comments below.