Western New York Catholics React to Pope's Resignation

February 11, 2013 Updated Feb 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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February 11, 2013 Updated Feb 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Local Catholics woke up to surprising news Monday morning, caught off-guard that the Pope is resigning.

Rosanne Maziarz says the news "was sad. It was shocking."

She was one of hundreds of Western New Yorkers in disbelief by the news that Pope Benedict is resigning.

Lori Hurley echoed many reactions, saying "I've never heard of a Pope doing that before, so it was shock." The last Pope to resign from the position was in the 15th century.

Pope Benedict XVI said he could not continue his papal duties due to his health. That is a decision that is very different than his predecessor Pope John Paul II, whose passed away in 2005.

However, the current Pope's decision is very comfortable for most Western New York Catholics.

Mike Callajn said his reaction was that, "he had enough courage to let everyone know that in the beginning -- so there's nothing wrong with him resigning."

His tenure is leaving many with mixed reactions.

Tom McGowan says "he wasn't the people's Pope like John Paul II."

However, Sister Ellen O'Keefe says, "I liked him. I thought that he was a man of God who really tried his best to lead the Church."

Pope Benedict had to deal with several scandals and challenges, from sex abuse in the Church to consolidations.

Citing conflicts overseas, poverty and the consolidations of many churches and schools, parishioners say there will be challenges for whomever takes over next.

Gary Morgan says "I think (the next Pope) should address issues not only around the world, but also in the US in respect to schools and churches and mergings and shutdowns."

As for who Western New Yorkers would like to see take his place, many would love to see an American Pope, but doubt that will happen.

Local Catholics say they would like to see a younger Pope who can hold onto the title for longer.