Catholics react to the Pope's resignation - WFLA News Channel 8

Catholics react to the Pope's resignation

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ST PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Roman Catholics in the Bay area are adjusting to the idea of getting a new Pope, sooner than expected. Pope Benedict, citing declining physical strength gave a two and a half week notice.  He will step down as head of 1.2 billion Catholics on February 28th at 8pm.

The news came as a surprise to Karen DeMilt a parishioner at St. Mary's Catholic Church of St. Petersburg. "Pretty much a shock. It never happened in our lifetime and brings a lot of thoughts how this can happen and how the next person will be," said DeMilt.

There has been no indication from the Vatican that the Pope faces any specific debilitating physical condition, according to Bishop Robert N. Lynch, the head of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

"Apparently this decision was not motivated by any news that he has a life threatening illness or anything. He's just feeling the challenges of age," said Lynch. Bishop Lynch traveled to Rome to meet with the Pope last May and noticed the Pontiff using a cane and looking frail.

When Josef Ratzinger was chosen after Pope John Paul II died, he was already 78 years old.

Bishop Lynch believes it will take the conclave of cardinals longer to choose a Pope this time. "A longer conclave because I don't think there's a clear go-to person that will have the 2/3rd majority plus one necessary to elect," said Lynch. He said some believe it's time for a Latin-American or an African Pope.

If a conclave is called by the beginning of March, Roman Catholics may have a new leader by Easter.

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