The majority of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics were most likely shocked by the news of Pope Benedict XVI is renouncing his office.
It is the first time a pope has walked away from the papacy in nearly 600 years.
Pope Benedict said he reached his decision after months of reflection about his weakening mental and physical health.
"That would make since that he'd resign when he thought his health was getting too frail," said Father Peter Zalewsai, the pastor at St. Dominic Parish in Panama City.
The last time a pope resigned from the office was 1415, when Pope Gregory XII resigned to end a civil war within the church.
"It is the first time so we're not used to it, but, if you look at him being 78 when he was elected, obviously the college of cardinals had a lot of faith in him,” said Father Zalewsai. “He even said that it would be a relatively short pontificate because of his age."
A college of cardinals will elect a new pope by Easter.
"I think this time they will look for a younger pope, I think it's very likely that it could be someone from the developing world,” said Father Zalewsai. “The church is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa and Asia, so that wouldn't be a surprise."
Benedict was the Catholic church's 265th pope and will step aside on February 28th.