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Pope Resignation: Newton Pastor Struck with 'Astonishment, Sadness'

Catholics in Newton – and around the world – react to the surprising news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month.

Many Catholics around the world – and right here in Newton – were surprised to see Pope Benedict XVI announce Monday morning that he would resign at the end of the month.

"He is a wonderful pope – it seems like it's coming out of the blue," said Father Charles Higgins, pastor at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton Upper Falls. 

Benedict's move is unprecedented in the modern world. The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, but that was to end a rift in the Catholic world. Benedict, 85, made his decision based on his belief that he could not perform his duties sufficiently because of his age.  

Although he know Benedict was "getting on in years," Higgins said he was still struck with "astonishment, surprise and sadness," when he heard the news. 

Higgins commended Benedict's "clarity" in his teaching as well as his writing.

"People have really been able to see his humanity in the last few years," Higgins said. "We've grown to have a lot of affection for him."

At both Monday's morning and noon Mass, Higgins said members of his church shared similar reactions to the Pope's announcement.

"Pretty much everyone is astonished and a little bit sad," Higgins said. "We will miss him." 

What was your reaction to Benedict's decision to resign? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Newton Girl February 12, 2013 at 05:01 PM
You can't blame him for wanting to resign, he's 85, long past the age most retire. I'm sure with all the church went through in recent times with the abuse scandals it must have been very taxing on him. I'm a catholic, it's sad to see him go
Adam Maleson February 12, 2013 at 06:08 PM
This decision may show him to be a wise and responsible man. p.s. why do you need a pope anyhow? Does the Bible actually say anywhere that there needs to be a pope? Did Jesus ever make any mention of a need for a pope? He's a human being, let him go out gracefully on his own steam. Maybe the Catholic church should astonish everyone even more by declaring the position will be retired with him, and he will be the very last pope. Now THAT would be interesting. Not like most people actually listen to what the pope says anyhow. The Bushes were kissing John-Paul's hand while going against absolutely everything he tried to tell them about not going to war on innocent people.

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