Damien Hopton, of the Plymouth Catholic Student Society, said: "The news that Pope Benedict is resigning has come as a great shock to us all, however we feel that it is a brave and courageous decision.
"Being Pope is not about your career but a vocation, a calling to be a shepherd and to look after God's flock on earth, you can see this clearly in his decision. The Pope must feel that his health would slow down and hinder this task and therefore his vocation now calls on him to step down and take other duties."
He added: "Looking back, this Pope has left his mark on the Catholics in this country. Loads of people from Plymouth travelled up to see the Pope when he visited the UK. By the time he had left he had inspired and energised the Catholic community. He has also left us with a lot of teaching and started the Year of Faith which has had a clear impact on Plymouth with numerous talks and meeting being held to support this."In a statement released today, Pope Benedict said: "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..."In today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me."BISHOP BENEDICT XVIPope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; on April 16, 1927 and is the 265th pope, Sovereign of the Vatican City State and leader of the Catholic Church.Benedict XVI was elected on April 19, 2005 and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on May 7, 2005.A native of Bavaria, Pope Benedict XVI has both German and Vatican citizenship.Ratzinger was ordained as a priest in 1951 and was appointed a full professor of theology in 1958.After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977.In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.From 2002 until his election as Pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals.Prior to becoming Pope, he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century" as "one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals".Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI is theologically conservative in his teaching and writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values.During his papacy, Benedict XVI has advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many developed countries.HERALD REPORTER'S ENCOUNTER WITH THE POPE
BEFORE my current incarnation as a journalist I previously worked for the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, as part of his press team, writes Herald reporter Patrick Daly.
It was during that stint that I got to assist with organising Pope Benedict's visit to the UK in 2010 – a job that culminated in meeting the 85-year-old Pontiff.
I met His Holiness at Westminster Cathedral before 9am in the morning on the third day of his visit. Despite the early hour, he was already visibly fatigued.
He had wanted to thank my colleagues and me for our efforts but, having already endured a busy morning itinerary, he could only muster a weary smile and a few repeated German-accented 'thank you's'.
Dressed all in white silk robes he walked unaided but in a shuffling manner. For such a famous figure, he had an unassuming presence and looked more like a grandfather than a leader.
It was probably why we warmed to him so much during the visit.
I was there when he went to greet hundreds of young people who were gathered outside the Cathedral. The emotion and connection between him and them was tangible and you could tell how delighted he was to be received like that by the younger generation.
Despite his age and tiredness, it was often his actions during the trip that had the greatest significance.