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St. Benedict Church, Diocese of Trenton React to Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation

Religious leaders reflect on the resignation, which is the first in 600 years.

Rev. Daniel Swift, of Holmdel's St. Benedict Catholic Church, found out about Pope Benedict's XVI resignation Monday morning via text message from a friend.

While Swift was not shocked by this morning's announcement from The Vatican, he believes it demonstrates Pope Benedict XVI's humility. 

"Pope John Paul's reasoning to stay on during his failing health was to give the elderly hope and say they are still able to make contributions to society in their own way," Swift said. "[Pope Benedict] was 78 when he was elected and some people criticized the Church. He said if it got to the point that he could not fulfill his duties as the Holy Father he would step down."

"He's probably been thinking and praying about it for quite some time and realized that God is asking him to relieve himself from his responsibilities."

Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced early Monday through the Vatican in Rome that he will step down at the end of the month, citing deteriorating health. The pope is the spiritual leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics.

Now, a new pope will be chosen by the Cardinals to replace the Pope Benedict, who is the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Rev. David M. O'Connell, Bishop of Trenton said while he's saddened by the news, he believes it shows courage and devotion to the church as a whole. 

"In a world where power and influence are sought after and held tightly, this passing of the papal crozier speaks volumes about Pope Benedict XVI's humility and desire that the Catholic Church be led effectively and well," Bishop O'Connell said in a news release.

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