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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Arkansas Catholics say they're surprised to hear that Pope Benedict will resign. It's been nearly 600 years since a Pope stepped down from leadership.

Father Charles Ryan woke Monday morning to hear Pope Benedict announced his resignation.

"It's something unusual in the history of the church. We haven't seen it for almost 600 years, since the time of Gregory the 12th," said Ryan, who leads the St. John the Baptist Latin Mass in North Little Rock.

Father Ryan said he's grateful for the Pope's service and understands the growing demands could be overwhelming.

"...How fatiguing the job must be as to be pastor of such a flock. John Paul II set the bar pretty high in terms of the daily administration of church affairs," said Ryan.

Pope Benedict appointed the Bishop of Little Rock Anthony Taylor. The bishop met him several times.

"He's very patient. I could see in his eyes that he was tired, but he was there paying attention, conversing with us," said Taylor.

Bishop Taylor said in March, Cardinals of the Catholic Church will go into what's called Conclave, a closed meeting, to decide who will replace Pope Benedict.

"Conclave means they're locked in with a key. There's no access to outsiders for it so that there wouldn't be outsider influence on the voting," said Taylor.

Many know Pope Benedict as a scholar and intellectual, but those in the church said he is much more.

"He is a man that will be missed; he did great things for the church," said Ryan.

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