ST. PETERSBURG, Fla - Bishop Robert Lynch from the Diocese of St. Petersburg held a news conference to discuss the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Lynch said, "This morning's announcement was both stunning to many and surprising to some."
Benedict announced to the world today that he is stepping down. The 85-year-old pontiff cited his "advanced age" as the reason.
Bishop Lynch told reporters that he had the unique privilege of knowing Joseph Ratzinger, very well. "He said shortly after his election as our pope that he would resign if his health ever would not permit him to fulfill his responsibilities as he saw fit. I believed him then."
Benedict's resignation is effective February 28.
"I am happy for him that he is going to spend his last days on earth at peace, in prayer and study. I shall always thank him for his love of the church," Lynch said.
Bishop Lynch urged members of his diocese to pray.
"I ask the Diocese of St. Petersburg to pray for Pope Benedict between now and February 28. Only then, will we begin our prayers to the Holy Spirit for our new Holy Father, whomever he might be,"
Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.