MIAMI (CBS4) – The world watched as Cardinal Jospeh Ratzinger of Germany stepped into history eight years ago taking the helm of the Catholic Church.
He’s now making history again in the rare decision to resign the position because, according to him, he no longer has the strength to fulfill the duties of his office.
“The Pope scooped the world on his resignation,” said the Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski.
“We need to take him at his word. The decision to step down must only be his.”
“I think it was courageous and just the right timing,” said Elsie Miranda, professor of theology at Barry University.
“In our time, nobody has ever resigned from the papacy before,” Miranda told CBS4’s Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen.
It was indeed a stunning move to many Catholics.
“I was shocked. But I understand. He does not feel well,” said Stella Briganti.
This resignation follows the term of the beloved Pope John Paul the Second who at 84 years old suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He did not resign despite repeated life and death hospital scares for failing health. Cardinal Ratzinger was considered his closest confident.
Pope Benedict 16th announced he will resign on February 28.
Will a new Pope be in place for Easter? Most likely.
According to Archbishop Wenski, who accompanied the Pontiff on a journey to Cuba, “I would think that in early March, the Pope elected will be in office for Easter.”
“It’s an opportunity for us now to pray asking the Holy Spirit to guide the Cardinals as they make the choice for the new pope,” said Wenski.
Will Pope Benedict have influence over the selection? Perhaps even allowed to vote? It’s a chapter still to be seen.
“That is a really key question. Whether or not he gets to vote for the next pope or whether or not he gets to lobby Cardinals to see who is in position. That is yet to be soon too. We’ve never been here before.”
While followers look to his successes, an indelible mark on his papacy will be the sex abuse scandals in the U.S.
The conservative theologian will also be remembered for trying to build bridges through new media. He was the first Pope to open a Twitter account. His latest tweet “We must trust in the mighty power of Gods mercy.” He has 1.5 million Twitter followers.