Pope's Announcement Met with Shock, Understanding

Reaction from area Catholics over the Pope's surprise announcement that he is stepping down has been swift, many expressing shock, others understanding.

It is, after all, the first time a pontiff has stepped down from the position in close to 600 years.

Word of the Pope renouncing his role at the end of the month "because of advanced age" caught some by surprise, but there was also understanding.

"I get it. Tired, at 80 something years old so," said Tina Marquez, a local Catholic. "I'm tired working 40 to 50 hours. I can't even imagine."

At the traditional noon-time mass at the Corpus Christi Cathedral, Bishop Michael Mulvey told parishioners that we should be thankful for the service Pope Benedict gave to Catholics in the later years of his life.

Parishioners were saddened by the Pope's decision to step down.

"You have to totally respect our Pope, because he is being honest," said Norma Jean Sierra, a local Catholic. "We know that above him being a Pope, he's a human being as well, and so with him and his honesty and integrity, we have to hold him to the highest respect."

"I'm wondering what's behind that. Why he felt that it was necessary to leave that position," said John Shultz. "Obviously it was well thought through, so he must have his reasons. I'm waiting to hear."

Bishop Mulvey reflected on the last time he saw Pope Benedict.

"I saw the Pope in November. I was over there for the last consistory of the new cardinals, and you know, he looked frail," Mulvey said. "Of course the bishops sit all up in the front, and as he was passing by, you could just see he was getting more frail."

Mulvey said that, while Pope John Paul remained until his death as a way of showing his mission, Pope Benedict will also be remembered for his.

"I think John Paul had a message. He wanted to show the dignity of aging. The dignity of dying, and that was his will and he did," Mulvey said. "But I think Pope Benedict is also looking at the good of the church, as he says in his decree that there's many needs out there."

Pope Benedict's resignation is a rare occurrence for the Catholic Church. The last Pope to resign or step down from his position was almost 600 years ago, when Pope Gregory XII stepped down in 1415.


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