Posted on February 11, 2013 at 5:11 PM
Monday, Feb 11 at 6:25 PM
AUSTIN -- The Catholic community in Central Texas is coping with Monday's shocking announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.
Bishop Vasquez has yet to comment on the Pope’s announcement. He's expected to make a comment at 5 p.m. Monday.
It's been a quiet morning at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin, but the talk is building and the questions are swirling.
In a statement the Pope acknowledged his failing health as a reason for stepping down.
“In order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, 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,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in a statement.
News of the resignation took many by surprise -- both those of the Catholic community and those outside the church. It's the kind of change that will go down in history.
Despite the shock, those KVUE spoke with say they support the Pope's decision.
“His health is a priority to anything else that he does. He has to take care of himself. So I can understand that,” said non-Catholic Satinka Stiles.
“I think it's wonderful. I think the guy's retiring or resigning, whichever, because he still has his mind left. You know, you try to run however many big the Catholic Church is with a feeble mind, and it just can't be done. So I think it's great,” said Kerry O’Hanlon, who was raised Catholic.
During noon mass Monday, parishioners at St. Mary cathedral said they prayed for a smooth transition and for wisdom for the college of cardinals.
"I was surprised, but I learned God is always surprising. I'm just grateful for his service as pope," said Carolyn Graff.
"I'll be praying the college of cardinals picks the right person under the guidance of the Holy Spirit," said parishioner Steve Dickman.
The campus director at St. Edward's University, Father Peter Walsh, says the new pope could be from Africa or Asia and represent the international reach of the Catholic faith.
"I think it will be important for the pope to be conversant in interfaith dialogue in the world we live in now, very open to that with other religious leaders," said Father Walsh.
The Pope’s announcement comes as the church prepares for a busy week. Ash Wednesday is just days away.