Eau Claire (WQOW) - There are 1.6 million Catholics in Wisconsin, and it's safe to say most were surprised by Monday's announcement from Pope Benedict. He announced Monday he will resign at the end of the month.
He'll become the first pope to step down in 600 years. Father John Schultz of St. James the Greater in Eau Claire said he didn't see it coming. He said Pope Benedict is a very strong and clear leader, and he has high hopes for his successor.
"I hope that this person has an international character to them. I would hope that this person would be able to understand and listen to people of all backgrounds, Catholic and other, and a person of prayer and spirituality," Schultz said.
Pope Benedict says the duties of being pope require strength of mind and body, and he simply isn't strong enough anymore. He's 85 years old.
He'll officially step down at the end of the month. A successor will be chosen next month. One potential candidate has Wisconsin ties. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York once served as the archbishop of Milwaukee. He would be considered a long shot, because the general thinking is the selection wouldn't be from a superpower.