REPORTER: The announcement was a total surprise. Even his aides were caught off guard.
POPE BENEDICT: "Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church."
REPORTER: Pope Benedict announced Monday he will resign from the Papacy because of deteriorating health, becoming the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to take such a step. Reaction outside the Vatican was disbelief.
SICILIAN TOURIST, SERGIO CALABRESE: "Obviously for us Catholics it has shocked us, it must be because of his health because if not it is inexplicable."
PORTUGUESE TOURIST, RICARDO RODRIGUEZ: "I am just really surprised. I hope the next pope can be better than this one and doing the best for the world and for the Catholics."
REPORTER: A Vatican spokesman was quick to embrace the Pope's right to make such a decision.
VATICAN SPOKESMAN FATHER FEDERICO LOMBARDI: "He says this with great freedom and clarity and we admire his totally (sic) freedom in renouncing to (sic) his service."
REPORTER: Now the important business of selecting a new Pope. Among the top candidates -- Canadian Marc Ouellet and Peter Turkson,from Ghana. If either man were elected, he would be the first non-European ever to lead the Roman Catholic Church.