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(Associated Press)

Pope’s announcement surprises local Catholics

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 2:01 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

When Beth Buller and found out Monday that Pope Benedict XVI would resign at the end of February, she was surprised.

“When we found out he chose to resign, we were very shocked,” she said.

Citing advanced age as his reason for stepping down, the 85-year-old Benedict is the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. Buller, a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, said she first thought the announcement was made because Benedict had died.

“I had never heard of a pope resigning,” she said.

Bill McCall, also a parishioner at Immaculate Conception, said he saw Benedict three years ago on a trip to St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City and was impressed with his ability to speak so many languages.

“There were people from all over the world, and he spoke German, Italian and other languages,” he said. “He was, and still is, a very intelligent man.”

Janet Stoma, also a parishioner of Immaculate Conception, said she believes that Benedict put plenty of thought into his decision to resign.

“I’m sure he has prayed a lot on it,” she said. “I feel he did what he had to do. We have to know he knows best.”

Buller, who serves as a eucharistic minister, said she admired Pope Benedict’s decision to think “more of the church than himself.”

“We’re in awe of his humility,” he said. “A worthy successor will be chosen soon and will hopefully be someone who is a very good Catholic who will ... lead the church how it’s supposed to be led.”

Brenda Hollenbeck, a parishioner at St. Martin De Porres Catholic Church, said Benedict’s successor should be a “passionate and intelligent leader.”

“I think the things I like best were the compassion of Pope John Paul II and how he related to the masses,” Hollenbeck said. “Benedict was very intelligent. I would want someone with the best of those qualities. There’s a lot that the Catholic church has been dealing with.”

Most Rev. Glen John Provost, bishop of Lake Charles, issued a statement about the resignation on Monday morning:

“Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, today has announced formally in Rome his intention to renounce the commission of ministry as the Bishop of Rome effective February 28, 2013. While this decision will catch many by surprise and is indeed rare in the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church, Canon Law allows for the possibility (Canon 332 §2). There are also precedents. According to many historians, at least five popes have resigned the papacy — St. Pontian 235, Benedict IX 1045, Gregory VI 1046, Celestine V 1294, and Gregory XII 1415.

“With gratitude to our Heavenly Father, we recall the almost eight years of Pope Benedict XVI’s service to the Church as Pope. Even prior to his election as Bishop of Rome, his extraordinary scholarship, spiritual depth, and strong leadership were an inspiration to many and to me personally. As Bishop of Rome, he spoke and wrote eloquently on the faith and the need for spiritual renewal. His apostolic journeys reached out to troubled areas of the world, and he diligently worked for unity amongst Christians and within the Church. We all assure him of our prayers and support.”

The potential leading candidates to succeed Benedict include two Cardinals from Africa — Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana and Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria. The names of Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada and Italy’s Angelo Scola also were prominently mentioned in the news media Monday.

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