SANTA FE (KRQE) - Pope Benedict's resignation took the Vatican and the world by surprise.
Monday afternoon, the archbishop of Santa Fe addressed the media about the pope stepping down.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan spoke of Pope Benedict's legacy, his courage and the humility it took to resign, an act with no modern precedent.
"A very historic moment because it's the first time in six hundred years, the first time since 1415, that a pope has resigned and it sort of came out of the blue," Sheehan said.
Sheehan said he learned of the resignation like everyone else, when he logged onto his computer early Monday morning.
Sheehan spoke of his meeting with the pope last year in Rome, how healthy he seemed, how Benedict had given him the cross he now wears.
Sheehan says he likely started feeling his age.
Benedict was known for the conservative course he set for the church.
Sheehan says Benedict's legacy will be one of sensitivity to people, as an author and for canonizing the first Native American saint.
About 1,000 Native Americans from New Mexico traveled to Rome for the canonization.
"It was a very special thing for us when he canonized the Indian saint Kateri Tekakwitha. I believe that meant a lot to the people of the Native American communities and also to many others as well," Sheehan said.
Sheehan says the next pope will inherit a church facing many issues, including unity in the church, poverty and the role of religion in making peace in the Middle East.
The archbishop of Santa Fe says he will be leading a pilgrimage to the holy land in a few weeks and then to Rome.
He says it's quite likely he'll be there during the conclave and possibly when the new pope is selected.
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