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Area Catholics shocked by Pope's resignation

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Albany/HV: Area Catholics shocked by Pope's resignation
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Catholics everywhere are reacting to the news of Pope Benedict's resignation. Many were shocked to hear of the Pope's decision to step down as of Feb. 28. Our Megan Cruz talked to some parishioners and has their reaction.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "I'm shocked," said Rotterdam resident Julius Pasquariello.

"Very unusual," said Sister Ann Elizabeth Norton of the Sisters of the Resurrection in Castleton.

It caught more than a billion people off guard Monday morning: Pope Benedict XVI announced he'll resign at the end of the month.

The last time a pope resigned was in 1415.

"I think he's doing it for the best of the Catholic community," said Pasquariello. "I think he's 85? He's getting up there."

Pope Benedict made the announcement Monday morning during a meeting of Vatican Cardinals. The 85-year-old Pope called his decision one of "great importance for the life of church." He cited his old age for why he could no longer perform the duties of Pope.

"Both 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," he said.

Some Catholics in Capital Region heard the news while at morning mass at Immaculate Conception in Albany.

"A vocation like that that takes such energy," said Father Frank O'Connor, the Chaplain of the Blessed Sacrament Shrine Church in Albany. "It seems to me to give way to a younger man would be prudent."

"If Pope Benedict feels he's unable to carry on his duties, he's made a good decision," said Norton. "But we'll really miss him. He's been a wonderful Father to the church.

Pope Benedict was elected on April 19, 2005. He was 78 at the time, the oldest pope since 1730.

The church he inherited was one in crisis. Catholics pray his successor can keep the community together.

"They got a big challenge, like the shortage of priests," said Pasquariello.

"Then there's the horrible scandal that has occurred in the church with regard to the abuse of children," said O'Connor.

Pope Benedict's last day will be Feb. 28th.

The Vatican plans to hold a conclave in mid-March to select a new head of the Catholic Church. It's said there's a number of clear contenders, but no clear front-runner.

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