Like many around the world, Charlottetown Bishop Richard Grecco expressed surprise Monday at the sudden announcement from Pope Benedict XVI that he is resigning.

The Pope's resignation is effective Feb. 28. The last time a pope resigned from office was 1415.

"Much of the church runs on custom, and it's been custom not to retire," Grecco told CBC News Monday.

"My reaction, along with surprise, was also a little bit of admiration for his courage because in order to break 600 years of custom he must have searched his heart and his soul very carefully."

The 85-year-old Benedict said his strength was deteriorating, as he has reached the point where he no longer feels he can adequately perform his duties.

Grecco noted the significance of Benedict making the announcement Monday, which in the Roman Catholic Church is the world day of prayer for the sick.