The Pope's decision was not a surprise to everyone. Many have seen the Pope's health waiver first hand, but others question if health is the main reason.
No one seemed to see this coming but Peggy Baker, a volunteer at Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Savannah, says the Pope seemed to be getting weaker with each public appearance.
"If he feels he cannot fulfill the duties of the Pope, then he needs to step down," said Baker. "This Pope is elderly and you can see in the last year his health has taken a toll on him."
Baker heard the news as she was on her way to the cathedral.
"I had no idea that the Pope was getting ready to retire. I think everybody is dumb founded with it. "
Some say it's the right decision.
"I think his best interest is the church and the interest of the people that they have a leader that is able to do the job and do it well and to the best of their ability," said Saint James School Principal Sister Lisa Golden. "Right now, Pope Benedict doesn't feel up to it and I admire him for that decision."
"I am rather surprised. It's been 600 years since a Pope has retired because of health," said Duane Twenge, Beaufort County. "It took a lot of wisdom. He didn't wake up and say I'm going to retire."
Helene Sullivan, 96, says she is disappointed the 85 year old is retiring and wonders if there are other reasons.
"He looked fine when I saw him. I want to know the reason," said Sullivan, Beaufort County. "I know we have had trouble in the Catholic Church, in our ministries, and so if that's the reason, tell us."
And she isn't alone in that belief.
"Personally, I don't believe it's his health," said Robert Boisclair, Beaufort County. "I think there is more to it than that. He is using that as a stepping stone to get out. I have never seen a Pope resign, they always die being a Pope."
Many Catholics are uniting in prayer for the health of their Pope and their church.