For the first time in 600 years, a pope is resigning as the leader of the Catholic church. Pope Benedict XVI, age 85, announced Monday that effective Feb. 28, he is retiring, citing age and declining health as his reasons for leaving.

Benedict's papacy began in 2005. With much respect and honor from people all around the world, Morehouse Parish residents have an opinion on this matter as well.

“I think he's doing what he thinks is best for the church,” said Bastrop Police Chief Downey Black. “He knows best about his health better than anyone. I think what he's doing is noble.”

The Vatican has already picked out the pope's future home, according to Bloomberg Business Week News. It's a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where cloistered nuns used to live. It has been under renovation for several months, although only a handful of Vatican officials knew that it would one day be Benedict's retirement home.

According to Cortez no date for a a conclave has been announced, but it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter, which is March 31 this year.

Mer Rouge resident Alma Honeycutt said she understands why the pope is retiring.

“We are most appreciative of his accomplishments and endeavors, but at 89-years old, I certainly see that he has reached his limitations.” Honeycutt said.

Bastrop resident Marc Vereen said he's confident the church will be go on as usual after the pope retires.

“I have all the faith in the world that a new pope will be appointed and the Catholic church will go on as it always has,” he said.