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Local community surprised by pope's resignation

Posted at: 02/11/2013 10:44 PM
Updated at: 02/11/2013 11:37 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Pope Benedict made the surprise announcement that he is stepping down  at the end of the month. 

The 85-year-old said he no longer has the physical or mental strength to lead the world's Catholics. The last time a pope resigned was 600 years ago. News10NBC spoke with people who were surprised by the pope's announcement, but had admiration that he did the right thing.

Arturo Hoyte, Rochester resident, said, “Its' a good sign that he recognized that instead of trying to hang on, he decided to just let the church know and they can move forward.”

Arturo Hoyte of Rochester is not Catholic, but he heard the news of Pope Benedict’s decision to step down and Hoyte had some thoughts about it.

Hoyte said, “ It is  kind of surprising, but if he feels he can't do the job,  due to his health, it's a good idea to let the transition of power happen, sooner rather than later.”

As members of a study group at St. Boniface Catholic Church on Gregory Street wrapped up, they talked about the pope's announcement.  Sister Phyllis Tierney thinks this may have been a tough decision for the pope. She says she admires his humility, putting the church's concerns first.

Sister Phyllis Tierney, Sisters of St. Joseph, said, “Many of us feel like we have to stay in our particular ministry of vocation as long as we can and he evidently really  feels that it would be better for the church for him to step down because he realized he is no longer able to give his energy and I think that's very admirable.”

Nazareth College history professor and church historian Tim Thibabeau  says the pope's resignation may set a precedent.

Dr. Tim Thibabeau, Nazareth College professor, said, “Add if you're managing a church that cuts across many continents with a billion Catholics, it's a very challenging position even for a young man to take that responsibility. So absolutely,I think this is a bold step on his part which is an exclamation mark at the end of his papacy.”

Joanne Englerth calls herself a Catholic from the cradle. She says the pope's resignation comes at a time when Catholics are open to change. And would consider a wider group of candidates.

Joanne Englerth said, “Possibly some men would consider becoming pope if called, not refuse or maybe it will attract young men know that they don't have to stay for life.”

Englerth says this could be a sign the church is headed in a new direction and the next pope could possibly come from Africa or South America.