The announcement was a total surprise. Even his aides were caught off guard. Catholics outside the Vatican and Papal aides alike reacted with surprise Monday to Pope Benedict's announcement that he will step down from the papacy. Mana Rabiee reports. (SOUNDBITE) (Latin) POPE BENEDICT, SAYING: "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." 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. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) SICILIAN TOURIST, SERGIO CALABRESE, SAYING: "Obviously for us Catholics it has shocked us, it must be because of his health because if not it is inexplicable." (SOUNDBITE) (English) PORTUGUESE TOURIST, RICARDO RODRIGUEZ, SAYING: "I am just really surprised. I hope the next pope can be better than this one and doing the best for the world and Catholics." A Vatican spokesman was quick to embrace the Pope's right to make such a decision. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VATICAN SPOKESMAN FATHER FEDERICO LOMBARDI SAYING: "He says this with great freedom and clarity and we admire his total freedom in renouncing his service." 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.