San Diegans react to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation announcement

Pope to step down Feb. 28

SAN DIEGO - The head of San Diego's Catholic church said Monday the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI "surprised all of us, but not completely."

Robert Brom, bishop of the San Diego Diocese, said he joins Pope Benedict in asking for prayers for the cardinals who will be tasked with choosing a successor.

The 85-year-old pontiff announced at a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican that he would step down as leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Feb. 28, citing his advanced age and declining strength. He's the first pope to resign from office in about 600 years.

"From the beginning of his pontificate in 2005, Pope Benedict has quietly indicated on occasion that he would resign if the time should come that he did not have the strength to fulfill the duties required of him as the successor of Peter," Brom said in a statement.

The bishop said the church has been blessed for eight years with a "gifted theologian, a man in love with the Lord, and a selfless servant of the church and the world."

The 265th pontiff has been reducing his workload recently and was reportedly advised to avoid taking any more transatlantic trips.

The Vatican's communications adviser said it's hoped that a new leader for the church will be selected in time for Easter services.

"The pope is resigning," said Pat Kankowski, a parishioner of St. Therese Parish in Del Cerro. "We've got to pray hard."

Donna Arthur has worshipped at St. Therese Parish for 42 years. Like many members 10News talked to, she revealed a rock-hard faith. Still, shock and questions surfaced throughout the morning.

"This is a big shock," Arthur said. "First of all, I didn’t know a pope could resign … All I did was pray; that’s about all we could do."

"I think it’s brave of him, in a way," parishioner Darlene Draper said. "If he feels physically and mentally [that] he’s not up to the task, I think it’s brave of him to do it."

Arturo Jimenez-Vera who began worshipping at St. Therese in 1970, said, "My faith will not change at all. It will remain the same … But, then comes the question of who is going to be the next one?"

Local homeless advocate Father Joe Carroll, who was at St. Peter's courtyard in 2005 for Pope Benedict's election, told 10News, "I was at his election. I was on the altar when he was installed, so that was my historic moment. I think he did the right thing in stepping down. He didn't agree with Pope John Paul's decision to stay on as long as he did. He was OK one day and the next day he was sick and he was missing words to prayers. The image was the church was dying, he didn't want to repeat that. We all thought if there was any pope that was going to retire it would be him."

Print this article Back to Top