The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI leaves the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics leaderless - but not for long.
"When a Pope dies or resigns, a college of cardinals, those cardinals able to vote under the age of 80, are summoned to Rome to form the consistory and once they arrive they're ushered into the Sistine Chapel and the doors are locked behind them and then their votes are being taken," said Father Paul Harte from Our Lady of Sorrows parish in Linwood. Father Harte also explained that the newly elected Pope must receive a two-thirds majority vote of the 115 cardinals expected to take part in the conclave.
After the cardinals cast their votes, white smoke and church bells symbolize a new Pope has been elected.
Many Catholics NBC40 spoke with had mixed emotions about the Pope resigning.
Father Peter Ditomasso said, "That was his decision. I don't think anyone forced it on him - he made that himself. I thought it was a very humble thing he did because he wasn't feeling well and he wasn't feeling up to the job because he was slowing down." Virginia Godleski, a singer at St. Joseph's church in Somers Point said, "He made the decision that he felt in his heart was the right one to make and none of us can judge him for that. Its between him and god."
Church leaders say that the new Pope will face some tough decisions in his first few months as pontiff.
"There is much in the world that is not at rest, and so the pope has been under much controversy in the papacy. So the pope has to come in and very strongly speak about our commitment to the gospel and the values of faith in Jesus Christ," said Father Harte.
Parishioners at St. Joseph's say the Pope's resignation is a sign from god.
Godleski told NBC40, "It's about time everybody opens up their eyes and realizes that God is moving and shaking and waking up hearts."