Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Today's Ash Wednesday service is expected to be the final public mass for Pope Benedict the 16th following his announcement earlier this week that he is stepping down.
The announcement that the 85 year old will be resigning from the highest position in the Catholic church in two weeks is the first time a Pope has resigned in more than 700 years.
Benedict told a group of cardinals at the Vatican
"Before God I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise."
Duluth priest, Father Richard Kunst agrees that advancing years have taken a significant toll on Pope Benedict.
He says, however, many in the Catholic church are concerned about confusion when a new Pope is appointed.
"From the Catholic perspective, there's only one Pope," says Father Kunst. "There's not two Popes. And so what happens to him? Does he quit being called Benedict? Does he lose the title Pope? Probably, there's no such thing as Pope Emeritus."
The Vatican has announced the Conclave to elect Benedict's successor will start sometime between March 15th and March 20th.
Benedict was elected by cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns