By: Kevin Karel (WRGA News)
Shocking news from the Vatican early Monday morning as Pope Benedict XVI announced he was resigning his position as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, effective at the end of this month.
Serving since the passing of Pope John Paul II in 2005, Benedict had recently been told by doctors he could no longer make transcontinental trips due to his failing health.
The news is relevant to many here in Northwest Georgia, especially with the start of the Lenten Season later this week marked by the observance of Ash Wednesday and culminating with next month’s sacred celebration of Easter. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta encompasses 69 counties, more than 21,000 square miles and contains approximately a million Catholics. Parishes can be found in Rome, Cartersville, Cedartown, Dallas, Fort Oglethorpe, Marietta, Kennesaw, Smyrna, Woodstock, Canton, Jasper and dozens more communities in the region. The Catholic population in North Georgia has more than tripled since 2000.
The Vatican issued a statement Monday saying they expected the next Pope to be elected by Easter, which this year falls on March 31st.
The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in the year 1415.
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