The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years.
Joseph Aloysius Rat zinger's papacy began in 2005. This is reportedly just the second time a head of the Catholic Church has stepped down.
The 85-year-old pope says he is stepping down because the rigors of the job are too much to handle. "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," Benedict told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering."
The leader of 1.3 million Roman Catholics in southeastern Michigan says he was surprised by the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron (VIG'-neh-ron) said in a statement Monday that surprise was followed by "sadness, a sense of grief at losing his fatherly care for all us." The leader of the Archdiocese of Detroit invited Catholics to pray for the pope and "guide him through what lies ahead."
Vigneron said "we look to the future with confidence, that the Lord who has given us this great pope and loving father, will give us a new shepherd of equal merit."
Back in May of 2012, there were rumors that Benedict may retire because of the arrest of his butler on suspicion of leaking controversial documents.
There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner.
WNEM will continue to follow this story and will provide updates as new information comes in.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation) and Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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