Kansas City Catholics react after Pope Benedict calls it quits - KCTV5

Kansas City Catholics excited, sad about Pope Benedict's retirement

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/CNN) -

No one really knows how these last few weeks are going to go, but for the more than 133,000 everyday Catholics in the metro, they understand Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign at the end of the month.

The spiritual leader surprised the world with the announcement Monday, citing he no longer has the necessary physical strength to lead the world's more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

It's the first time a pope has stepped down since 1415.

Kansas City Catholics said they were saddened by the news, but are excited to see who is chosen to replace him.

"Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength, which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," said Benedict, 85, according to the Vatican.

The news startled and shocked the Catholic world and led to frenzied speculation about who would replace him.

"Well it was a shock when I first heard it. But then, he's 85 years old and in poor health, so maybe it was the best thing," Kansas City parishioner Tom McGurie said.

Renee Rasch said she took the news with disbelief.

"I was very surprised," Rasch said.

Others said they understood the difficulty of being abel to lead vigorously at the age of 85 in a 24/7 ever-changing world. The pope drew praise for the strong leadership he has provided for almost eight years.

Father Justin Hoye of St. Patrick's Parish in Kansas City said steps had been taken at the Vatican to preserve the pope's strength and energy.

"Most parishioners would sympathize with him. He's 85 years old. There's over a billion Catholics that he's in charge of, and we understand how demanding that can be and what a toll that can take one a person," he said.

Hoye says Monday is "World of the Sick Day," where Catholics universally pray for those who are sick and in need of healing. He says the announcement today was especially meaningful for that reason. 

Benedict announced his resignation just before the start of the church's Lenten season, which begins with Ash Wednesday.

"We're happy for him if he feels like he's not capable of carrying on his duties.  He will be very good in retirement," Virginia Coppinger said.

Cardinals will meet to choose Benedict's successor sometime after his official resignation Feb. 28, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said at a news conference.

"Before Easter, we will have the new pope," he said.

Benedict won't be involved in the decision, Lombardi said. But his influence will undoubtedly be felt. Benedict appointed 67 of the 118 cardinals who will make the decision.

Mark Kramer, a Jesuit priest who teaches history of theology at Rockhurst University, he feels sadness about the resignation, but also is praying for the right person to be chosen.

"I think this man is a holy man and has so many gifts for the church," Kramer said. "But there's also some excitement that someone new, perhaps with different gifts, that the spirit is calling for someone new. . .  You just have to trust that the spirit will give us what we need right now. That's part of the process of the church to enter into prayer now."

Benedict becomes the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. In that case, Gregory quit to end a civil war within the church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.

Benedict will step down as pope at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in Rome, then head for the pope's summer residence. He will probably move to a monastery in the Vatican after that.

After the resignation takes effect, cardinals will gather in Rome to select a successor. It takes at least two-thirds plus one of the 118 voting cardinals to elect a new leader for the church.

Benedict took over as pope in 2005 as the church was facing a number of issues, including declining popularity in parts of the world and a growing crisis over the church's role in handling molestation accusations against priests around the world.

He succeeded the incredibly popular Pope John Paul II, whose death devastated the world.

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