They came together to sing, pray, and listen to the scripture readings. But the message here at St. Mary Catholic Church in Evansville was anything but typical. This is the first time in 600 years, a Pope has stepped down. Pope Benedict says he is stepping down at the end of the month because of his advanced age. He was elected Pope in 2005. His resignation came as a surprise to Catholics.
"If he truly is resigning because he thinks he doesn't have the stamina to keep up with it, then we are very proud of him because he's thinking of the church and not himself," Susie Fox said.
"I feel proud of him for the course that he took and especially since I'm getting up in years myself and I don't know if I could do what he did today," Sister Marilyn Uline said.
The stunning news comes just days before Ash Wednesday. Eyewitness News talked with Bishop William Medley about this historic decision.
"We are certainly living in a historic time. But at the same time, having the opportunity to personally encounter the Pope just over a year ago, it was clear his health was declining," Bishop William Medley said.
Catholics say the Pope will be remembered as a bright man, a teacher, and for having a passion for the poor. As Catholics come together to pray for the church, the process to choose the next leader begins. The spiritual leader will leave his post February 28th.