At St. Paul Parish in Westerville, Catholics heading home from church service said the Pope's decision to resign left them incredulous.
“I thought it was on the radio as a joke. I didn't think it was possible. At first, I was heartbroken,” said Kathleen Cusack.
“I'm sure it's God's will, wonderful Pope,” added Bill Cusack.
In recent years, Pope has Benedict has slowed down significantly, cutting back foreign travel and limiting his audiences.
Dr. Leo Madden is a professor of theology at Ohio Dominican University. He said he hopes Catholics view Benedict's resignation as an act of humility.
“He did it for the good of the church. It’s just stamina, wearing down,” said Madden.
Benedict's resignation now sets the stage for a conclave in March to elect a new leader for world's 1 billion Catholics.
Church-goers in central Ohio will be watching closely to see who will be named Benedict’s successor.
Madden does not think an American could be named.
“I think it's unlikely, if not impossible to conceive,” he added.
Benedict himself will hold great sway over the choice of the next pope who could be named as early as next month.
Kathleen Cusack prays the church will choose wisely.
“These are disturbing times, he'll have the weight of the world on his shoulders,” she said.
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