Feb 12, 2013 11:47 AM by Simone DeAlba (Great Falls)
Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will step down at the end of February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years.
Pope Benedict stated that he "...had examined his conscience before God and had concluded that he was not physically fit to carry out his duties."
Father Jay Peterson, the vicar-general of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, said, "I think he probably saw first-hand the stresses and strains of trying to be pope and being very, very sick at the same time, and I think he probably wanted to be able to maybe even set a precedent for future popes to be able to resign from the job, and I don't see it as 'letting God down,' so to speak."
Cardinals are expected to begin gathering in conclave around the beginning of March to find his replacement.