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Local Catholics Surprised, but Respectful of Pope Benedict XVI's Decision to Step Down

(Credit: KSMU file photo)

Catholics in Springfield, and around the world, woke up to hear the Monday morning announcement: Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign his papal office later this month. Some say they aren’t surprised by his decision. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.

Pope Benedict has broken tradition with his announcement.

According to his statement released from the Vatican's official website, the Pope says he repeatedly examined his conscience before God, and felt that due to his advanced age, his strengths are “no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Local Catholics have mixed emotions about the resignation. Amy Jackson is a senior at Missouri State University, and a member of the Catholic Campus Ministry student organization. Jackson says she’s not surprised he decided to step down because of his age.

“Once he was installed, the Pope, everyone was kind of like, ‘He’s a little bit old to be installed as Pope, there’s a possibility,’ kind of thing. It didn’t really come out of nowhere that he had the resignation,” said Jackson.

Another senior at MSU, Kaitlyn Kelseh, is also Catholic. She says she was initially surprised when she heard the news from her mother. But after learning why the Pope felt it right to leave, she says she completely understands why he would choose to step down.

Pope Benedict is 85 years old. When he became Pope back in 2005, he was 77.

Sister Michelle is a nun working with the ministry on campus. She echoes the students’ sentiments: the decision, she says, is understandable and a choice she thinks took a lot of humility to make.

“I think the next Pope, for me, will be very different because I see this Pope as kind of a [continuation] of late Pope John Paul II. The next Pope, I think will be just a major movement in the church. It will be very different but I think I’m excited.”

Pope Benedict will officially step down from his position on Feb. 28that 8:00 p.m. Vatican time.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.