In a huge surprise for Catholics in Calgary and around the world, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Monday, saying he is too old and sick to continue in the role.

He made his announcement at Vatican City during a meeting of cardinals on Monday morning, making him the first pope in modern history to resign his post.

He cites his advancing age and poor health issues as contributing factors in his decision.

The last time that the pope resigned was in 1415 - Pope Gregory XII. Prior to that, Pope Benedict IX resigned from the post in 1045.

He’ll stay on until February 28 and a new leader of the Catholic Church must be elected in March.

Calgarians are shocked by the sudden turn of events but wish all the best for Benedict’s health. “I feel sad for his health. He’s got Parkinson’s disease and I feel really bad for everyone who’s got that. It’s a pretty awful disease to have. We can just pray for him and for everyone else.”

Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was elected pope on April 19, 2005 in one of the fastest conclaves in modern history. He reportedly was elected after four ballots, with 84 of 115 votes.

With files from