WILKES-BARRE -- People in our area are reacting to today's announcement from the Vatican.
Those who spoke with Newswatch 16 earlier Monday morning said Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as man who served his church, and helped lead the faithful.
The 8 a.m. mass at was held at St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church on South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, a little more than one hour after the news broke that Pope Benedict XVI was stepping down.
"Oh, I thought he was a very holy man, a very holy man," said Mike Koval.
Mike Koval frequently attends mass at St. Nicholas, a church established 150 years ago by German immigrants. People there wonder what happens to the institution of the Roman Catholic Church now that the German-born Benedict, is stepping down after eight years.
"He's done some wonderful things but I think they will be able to have the right competent people take over his spot," said Tim Evans.
The assistant pastor at St. Nicholas thinks Benedict did a selfless thing by announcing his resignation, the first pope to step down in six centuries. Benedict says he's no longer able to satisfy the demands of the position, so it's best to leave the job to someone else.
"I think he'll be remembered as a great pope, a true intellectual, with humility, a person who made a difference for the church," said Fr. John Victoria, assistant pastor at St. Nicholas.
There is one major theme running through the thoughts of all the people we spoke with this morning and that is surprise. No one really saw this coming, and the resignation of a pope is extremely rare.
"When I saw that on TV this morning, I was so surprised. I didn't think they resigned," said Koval.
Pope Benedict steps down at the end of this month, which leads to an important question.
"Where do you see the church going?"
"Where Christ leads us," said Fr. Victoria.