By Sonya Stevenssstevens@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- For the first time in 600 years, a pope is resigning.
Pope Benedict XVI made his announcement Monday and cited his age and declining health. It has Catholics around the world talking, including here in the Lowcountry.
The Diocese of Charleston held a press conference Monday to talk about the announcement from the Vatican.
"Pope Benedict spent his papacy sharing his love of God and love of the church with Catholic faithful around the world," said Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston. "His resignation today is an outward sign of that love. On behalf of the Diocese of Charleston, I wish to thank Pope Benedict for his eight years of leadership as shepherd of the Catholic Church."
Guglielmone, who was appointed by the pope in 2009, had the privilege of visiting him in Rome in May.
"During the meeting, Pope Benedict seemed physically tired," said Guglielmone. "He wore the expression of an 85-year-old man dealing with his age. However, he was emotionally animated especially when we started the conversation and it shifted to the use of technology in terms of spreading the Gospel."
Some Catholics in the Lowcountry attended mass this afternoon and most said that they supported the pope's decision.
"They don't put a time of when they retire, but he is so outstanding and his love for the church is so strong that he feels that this is the right thing to do for the church and I pray for him," said Pauline Sottile of Charleston.
Some feel that the change may be for the best.
"So many rapid changes in the world right now, I think a tolerant moderate approach from leadership down would be beneficial," said John Morgan of Charleston.
And Catholics around the world will be praying, believing that the next pope will be divinely inspired by the holy spirit.
The seat of St. Peter, filled by the current pope, will be vacant starting Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. Sometime in March, the college of cardinals gather all cardinals eligible to vote to come to Rome and enter into conclave and hopefully sometime that month a new pope will be elected.
There have only been a dozen popes that have resigned during the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church.