(St.Paul, MN) -- Many Catholics were taken by surprise after learning Pope Benedict XVI (the 16th) is resigning at the end of the month. Dr. Don Briel is director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. He says Benedict himself has hinted over the last several years that given his age and increasing fragility that resigation would have to be an option to consider. Benedict will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. Officials hope a new Pope will be named before Easter. The 85-year-old Pope announced the bombshell in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, surprising even his close collaborators.