Locals react to Pope's resignation

Local Catholic leaders were taken by surprise after Pope Benedict XVI announced he plans to resign.

Over at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, Monsignor Michael Heintz was still processing the news Monday afternoon.

"it's a new ball game," he said. "This is something that hasn't been dealt with in modern times."

Heintz was starting off his day much like any other when he first got word of the Pope's decision.

"I was in the bathroom shaving, listening to NPR at about 5 o'clock and at the top of the hour they announced the news," Heintz said.

A Pope has not resigned from the position since the Middle Ages - the year 1415. Century after century, the the Vatican has stuck to the same procedure to replace the church leader. Now, that is all up in the air.

"In the days and weeks ahead, we'll learn a lot more," Heintz said.

His Holiness stating he is no longer able to effectively carry out his duties.

"it is less are reflection of him being 85 and more a reflection that this is an enormously difficult task to undertake," Heintz said. "He took it for the love and obedience of the will of God."

As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to step down, many questions linger on the minds of Catholics around the world.

"I'm guessing there won't be a big gap between the resignation and the conclave," Heintz said.

The Pope is expected to take a step back from public life and allow his successor to assume full responsibility of the church.

But, it is the end of his predecessor's life that some say may have played into this decision.

"John Paul II died at age 84," said Joseph Incandela, professor of religious studies at St. Mary's College. "Benedict XVI is now older than John Paul was when he died and maybe there was something that sort of clicked for Benedict. Once he passed the age of John Paul when he died that he thought seriously about resignation."

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