BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One billion Catholics are shocked by the departure of Pope Benedict XVI. The 85-year-old pontiff says he doesn’t have the energy to continue.
Kai Jackson has the impact on the Catholic Church and its members here in Maryland.
News that Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation stunned Catholics worldwide, yet no group appears to have been more surprised than the cardinals the pope first told.
“It’s like watching your own dad get old and admit that he’s not up to all the duties that being head of the family involves,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
The pontiff says he’ll step down at the end of the month. He told cardinals that he no longer has the strength to do the job.
He’s the first pope to resign in 600 years. Experts say it’s something that just doesn’t happen.
In a culture where Biblical doctrine rules, tradition is steadfast and change is slow, the faithful are left wondering what happens next.
The church hierarchy is still trying to manage the priest sex abuse scandal and a host of other problems facing Catholic leaders.
“I’m excited about young blood–relatively young blood–getting in there,” said parishioner Leo White.
“We hope for the best. We hope we would have another good pope,” said Lucilla Facchin.
Archbishop Lori says that he was surprised about Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement, but it was not totally unexpected.
Archbishop Lori says he took time to remember times in the recent past when the pope had mentioned that he would resign if he were physically or mentally unable to carry out the duties.
“He is a man of prayer, humility, reflection and wisdom,” said Lori.
Just six weeks ago, the archbishop says the city of Baltimore was on the pope’s mind and heart when he spoke with him in Rome.
“His holiness expressed great affection for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and his appreciation for the history as the first and oldest in the United States,” said Lori.
Archbishop Lori also sent greetings from the former head of the Baltimore Archdiocese Cardinal Edwin O’Brien.
“The news, while sad, is yet another example of the pope’s selflessness and humility, and presents an opportunity for the Church and the entire world to look with gratitude on his remarkable papacy,” Cardinal O’Brien said in a statement.
The news left area Catholics scrambling to understand what has happened and what happens next.
“Well, I’m very surprised and sort of shocked. I’ve never heard of a pope resigning, but I hope he’s OK and things will go on hopefully,” said Enid Stanley.
Those WJZ spoke to in Baltimore say they admire Pope Benedict for not serving as pope if he’s no longer capable of doing his job.
“If he’s too ill to really bless as he should, I give credit to him for doing that. I have a lot of respect for him, and I hope his health gets better,” said Frank Bonner, parishioner.
O’Brien was in the room when Pope Benedict made his announcement. He served as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore for five years before taking a post in Rome.
O’Brien, as a cardinal, will be able to vote for the next pope. Lori as an archbishop will not.
The pope was elected to the papacy in 2005.