The news of the Pope's resignation shocked Catholics around the world, including right here in the east.
It's the first time a Pope has resigned in nearly 600 years.
Father Justin Kerber, a priest at St. Peter Catholic Church in Greenville, got the call this morning as he was preparing for mass.
"I got a phone call from a priest friend of mine at about 7 o'clock. I thought he was joking," said Father Kerber.
Father Justin visited with the Pope in Rome just a few months ago.
"He was a little slower and he didn't walk the long distances any longer but he was alert, sharp. I mean he's been on top of everything. I don't think he wants to have it that a time will come when he isn't," he said.
Could Pope Benedict's move set the bar for leaders of the future?
"Yes. It's a different world with all the medications and people never live this long. At 85 he's still going strong," said Kerber.
At age 78, Benedict was already the oldest Pope elected in nearly 300 years. There are several contenders for his replacement but no obvious front runner.
Only three other Popes in history have voluntarily resigned from their positions.
The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
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