Pope Benedict XVI announced this morning that he would resign February 28. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, citing his failing health.
As to whether the announcement really did come as a surprise...
That is Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College.
Dennis Poust agrees.