BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Catholics across Maryland honor Pope Benedict XVI.

Adam May reports it’s the first time in almost 600 years parishioners can give thanks to a living leader of the church.

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A Mass of thanksgiving at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen as Catholics say goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI.

“We know that he’s given everything to us, now we want to pray for him,” said Archbishop William E. Lori.

Hundreds packed the pews for this historic service. It’s the first time a living pope has retired since 1415.

“It’s an act of great humility to step aside in view of the great needs of the church. It also speaks to his great humanity and love for all of us,” Lori said.

Parishioners express favorable opinions of their outgoing leader.

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“He wasn’t that anxious to become pope when they made him pope, so he’s put in major contribution when he was pope,” said Hank McGraw.

“We wanted to be here to pray for him, and we know that he’s going to spend the rest of his days in prayer for us,” said Mary McGraw.

Catholics also pray for cardinals who will choose a new pope in the coming weeks.

“When I see that white smoke, I guess I’d like to say yes it’s an American. I think that would be really exciting,” said Carlisle Hashim.

“Somebody who is charismatic, who can reach out around the world and do great things,” said John Miller.

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Pope Benedict is the first pontiff in decades to retire from his post, causing speculation and rumors as to why in Vatican City.