Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he is resigning, effective Feb. 28.
Archdiocese of Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. today at 2401 Lake Park Drive in Smyrna to address questions and concerns.
Local churches, including Woodstock's St. Michael The Archangel Roman Catholic Church, are not authorized to comment on the news.
"It’s very new," said Meaghan Schroeder, assistant communications director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. "Everyone's just trying to digest it all."
The pope's resignation letter reads in part:
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry... in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me..."
Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques, who is Catholic, noted the pope's announcement came as a "shock."
"I don’t think anyone was expecting it," he said. "Everyone knew he was in failing health and I’m sure it has something do to with that."
Henriques said he believes the next pope chosen will most likely have the ability to serve "for quite some time," similar to the tenure of Pope John Paul II, who served as Pope between 1978 and 2005 when he passed away.
He also said it will give the Catholic Church an opportunity to "broaden its appeal."
"I think what it does is it opens up the door for possibly a new pope coming form an area that never had one before," he said, referencing places such as South America, United States or Africa.
Pope Benedict XVI was born in 1927, in Bavaria, as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, and is the 265th pope. The last pope to resign was Gregory XII, in 1415.
Tell us: How do you feel about the pope's resignation? What impact will this have on the Catholic Church?