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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -
With the news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, Toledo's Bishop Leonard Blair held a news conference Monday morning.
On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI said he will resign at the end of the month due to a lack of strength to fulfill his duties. This makes him the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
Bishop Blair says he and other region six bishops, Ohio and Michigan, last visited Pope Benedict in February 2012.
"The Ohio bishops met with him one morning in his study....the Holy Father at the time was already showing his age, but it was not clear at that point what the future would hold," said Bishop Blair.
Typically a new pope is chosen when someone dies.
When Pope Benedict took his position, Cardinals said he would be elected as an interim pope, which is why local Catholics say they did not expect him to stay in his position for too long.
This announcement does come as a shock, many from the Catholic community.
During mass at St. Francis DeSales Chapel in downtown Toledo, the pope's name was mentioned several times for prayer.
Most faithfuls say they respect his decision and are responding positively.
Toledoan and Catholic believer James Pauly, who is 80 years old, says he understands how the work load could be a lot for someone Pope Benedict's age.
"He was probably getting forgetful," said Pauly. "It probably went to that stage where he thought being replaced would be a better decision."
Bishop Blair says he believes the pope has fulfilled his duties during his service. He says people should pray for the pope's health and ask God to give the Cardinals grace in choosing his successor.
The next pope could be chosen around the end of March. Many local Catholics hinted the church should look for a younger replacement.
"The way the world's changing, I think you need a more energetic guy that's going to be more involved," said Steve Cherry.
Others agreed age should be an important factor in the search.
"The job is very demanding as a pope, and also as a head of a city-state, which the Vatican is. He has much diplomatic chores to do, meeting with heads of states. So it's a very demanding job and probably would help with a younger man doing that type of work, in that position," explained Frank Gurdull.
Sister Attracta Kelly, prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, said she hopes the pope's successor will be dedicated to helping those in need, and, "is able to bring the word of God to everybody, and have the courage to speak out as necessary. And also to be aware of the thousands of people who are poor and homeless and usually have no one to care about them."
Still, local Catholics say they have faith the Cardinals will choose the right person to whom the Holy Spirit leads them.