Surprised was a word commonly used in talking with local Catholic parishioners about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope, who is 85, said he noticed his strength had deteriorated over recent months, “To the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter," he said according to a statement from the Vatican.
Pope Benedict is the first Pope in nearly 600 years to resign. Since Gregory XII did it in 1415.
Paul Buysse said, “Personally, I didn’t know the Pope could resign or retire.”
Buysse said that perhaps Pope Benedict’s decision to resign had been influenced because he had seen the long decline in the health of his predecessor Pope John Paul II.
Father Thien Nguyen of St. James Catholic Church said, “In a way it was a surprise, but it was also not a surprise because of his age.” Father Nguyen said one of the reasons Pope Benedict was doing a good job was because he was very good at advancing the ‘clarity of faith’.
Rev. John M. Quinn, bishop of the Diocese of Winona, said in a statement, “We are saddened by his resignation; it is a loss for our Church as Pope Benedict is such a great Pontiff, a true blessing and gift to our Church.
“Yet, we are hopeful for the future. We trust that the Holy Spirit led the Pope to this decision and will guide the Cardinals to elect a new Pope to meet the current challenges of our Church and the world today. Please join me in praying for Pope Benedict XVI and the Cardinals during this time of transition.”
St. James Catholic Church secretary and bookeeper Mary Sandmeyer said that she had noticed in recent appearances that the Pope had looked very frail, so that she was not totally shocked by the resignation. She said, “He needed to do what was best for him and for the Church.”
Jack Conway of St. James said regarding how rare an event a Papal resignation was, “It’s amazing to me that a resignation could happen just once every 600 years.”
Looking to the selection of a new Pope Conway said, “We all pray the Cardinals will select a new Pope who will keep many of the traditions we have, but at the same time be open to making changes we feel probably needed to be made in the Church.”
Father Nguyen expressed the belief that, “The Cardinals and all the members of the Church have to pray the Holy Spirit guides the Cardinals in the selection of the Pope.”