Area Catholics react to Pope's announcement of resignation

POSTED: 8:01 PM Feb 11 2013   UPDATED: 8:06 PM Feb 11 2013
ABILENE, Texas -

People are shocked, a little sad, but also inspired and excited by the Pope's decision to step down.

As of Feb. 28, the position of Pope will be vacant.

As part of his official statement, the 85-year-old said, "After having repeatedly examined by conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."

Catholics in the area reacted.

"I'm excited because I think that any time we get a new Pontiff, there's often times a breath of fresh air and some new ideas," said deacon Gary Rhodes.

Parishioner Erin Coffman said she's not surprised.

"He was 20 years older than Pope John Paul when he came in," she said. "This is an extremely pivotal time in the Catholic church and if he's not feeling 100 percent, I kind of respect the decision because I think it's important that he's looking to the church, which is the most important thing," she said.

Bishop Pfiefer of the San Angelo Diocese released this statement today:

"...I was surprised, but not really, by the sudden decision...I was with Pope Benedict XVI twice in the past year and a half and I could see how difficult it was for him to carry out his universal ministry for the worldwide Church..."

A pope hasn't resigned since the Middle Ages when Pope Gregory XII stepped down in 1415. He did so to end a Civil War in which more than one man claimed to be pope.