Denison Catholics Support Pope's Decision To Resign - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Denison Catholics Support Pope's Decision To Resign

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DENISON, TX -- Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to resign from office, and many parishioners are eager to see who will replace him.

As of Thursday at 2 p.m., there is no pope, only pope emeritus. Swiss Guards in the countryside outside Rome shut the doors on Pope Benedict's time as one of the most powerful men in the world.

Catholics in Denison heard a message about the resignation of the pope during the regular noontime mass at Saint Patrick Catholic Church.

"He's the one that we recognize as continuing in the line of Peter the Apostle that Christ founded his church upon," says Father Steve Mocio.

After visiting the Vatican with 40 other parishioners, Jacque Otker says she feels a closer connection to the Bishop of Rome.

"He's someone that we look to for guidance and to give us some spiritual direction and I think that's why I respect him for acknowledging his humanness," says Oetker.

Even though it is exceedingly rare for a pope to decide to leave office, many parishioners say they can understand why he decided to resign at age 85.

"Only he knows, possibly he might be ill or getting Alzheimer's and cannot fulfill his job," says parishioner Pat Miller.

"He's a pretty old man and maybe somebody can replace him," says parishioner Victor Mansilla.

In a statement from the Vatican, the pope says strength of body and mind are necessary and in the last few months, that strength deteriorated in him to the extent he can no longer do his job properly.

"It's quite amazing, they had all the bells at St. Peter's Square going whenever he was loaded onto the helicopter," says parishioner Paul Schnitker.

Now, it will be up to a group of cardinals to choose the next leader of the Catholic church. Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, was the first in hundreds of years not to be from Italy.

"God will intercede and the right one will be picked. It would be nice to have Monsignor Cardinal Dolan from New York, but I don't think they'd pick an American," says Miller.

"Whoever is elected is going to be received warmly and embraced," says Mocio.

In a farewell message, Pope Benedict XVI pledged obedience to his successor and he will reportedly no longer make public statements. On Monday, cardinals are expected to finalize a date for their conclave to pick a new pope.