LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation Monday, sending shock-waves through the Southland’s Catholic community of five million.

READ MORE: As 49er Fans Descend Upon The Southland, Rams Fans Prep For NFC Championship

“I think it’s better he would have stayed because I think he can do his job,” parishioner Rodelio Ardines said.

85-year-old Pope told senior church officials that he will be stepping down as Pontiff, a lifetime-appointed position, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, just eight years after taking office.

Benedict was elected to office after Pope John Paul II died in 2005.

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the pontiff said in a statement published on the Vatican website.

Pope Benedict XVI is the first pontiff to step down from office in nearly 600 years. Pope Gregory XII resigned from office in 1415.

KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports the announcement rocked much of the Catholic community in Southern California.

“This has caught everybody by surprise. It’s caught the Archdiocese, its caught the world,” Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said.

READ MORE: Firefighters Discover Human Remains After Putting Out RV Fire In Wilmington

“The Church will continue to be blessed by his prayer lifted up for the needs of the world, as well as by his writings which will continue to nourish the minds, hearts and souls of Catholics around the world,” Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a statement about the Holy Father’s resignation.

“Pope Benedict XVI has truly been a Holy Father to the family of God, his Catholic Church. His decision to resign is a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint, who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said.

During his tenure, Benedict endured a long-standing priest abuse scandal that has plagued the church both locally and worldwide.

A new pope will be elected by a conclave by the end of March, in time for Easter, church officials said.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the church to bring in someone new,” parishioner Joseph Melendez said.

Former Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, the most senior of American Cardinals, will travel to the Vatican to take part in the conclave.

“I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the Conclave to elect his successor,” Mahony said.

Mahony is also eligible to be selected as pope, Tamberg said.

MORE NEWS: 'Is He Alive? Is He Alright?' Family Left With Nothing But Questions After Ricky McGhee's Disappearance Weeks Ago

Benedict was born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany in 1927.