Pope Benedict's goodbye brings mixed emotions - WFLA News Channel 8

Pope Benedict's goodbye brings mixed emotions

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Father Matthew Gamber, Jesuit High School talks about the Pope stepping down. Father Matthew Gamber, Jesuit High School talks about the Pope stepping down.

Images of Pope Benedict XVI's last day as pontiff were watched in the Bay area and around the world on Thursday, giving followers the rare sight of a pope stepping down before more familiar tradition kicks in to choose a new leader.

Benedict, 85, announced earlier this month that he would resign, citing his advanced age. It has been hundreds of years since a pope stepped down instead of serving in that role until death.

"It's like a ‘wow' moment," said Vallida Garnica, coming out of mass at Sacred Heart Catholic church in downtown Tampa.  Garnica said she had mixed emotions, including some of sadness to say goodbye to Pope Benedict.  "It is also very exciting, like, ‘Oh my gosh, who's God going to have next to lead us?'" she said. "It's very exciting to me."

Father Matthew Gamber, who said he got up early to watch the day's events with other priests, described the day as "bittersweet."  "There's a real sadness and yet sense of peace and a sense of trust that the Holy Father knows what he's doing," Garner said a few hours before the resignation took effect. "He's made this decision, he's executing it, so we know him and love him."

It will be up to the College of Cardinals now to choose a new pope, with those under age 80 casting secret ballots in a process that requires a two-thirds majority.  Garner, who teaches theology at Jesuit High School, said he expects the balloting to take three or four days at the most.

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