MILWAUKEE- Hours after Pope Benedict announced he would step down parishioners emerging from noon mass at Old St. Mary's in downtown Milwaukee react and nearly all of them the same.
“Startled, shocked,” said lifelong Catholic Tom Sardina.
“I don't think any of us were expecting this,” said Father Mike Hammer.
No one was expecting what would come as the first papal resignation in 600 years, Benedict as the leader of over 1 billion Catholics
has served as Pontiff for less than a decade.
His resignation is unprecedented for modern times but some also say fitting for the times, at Old St. Mary’s the news was met with complete understanding by most.
“The guys 85 years old, you know if he wants to step down he's tired,” said parishioner Tony Gagliano
“I thought about the Holy Father, I thought about an 85 year old man making a decision in his life and maybe some wisdom in saying I've reached my limit,” said Father Tim Kitze.
Kitze leads parishes on Milwaukee’s east side, he expects his parishioners to take the news just fine, but he knows among the faithful speculation is already building about who will become the next Pope; he offered what he would like to see.
“Somebody who could be a preacher of good news, that somehow a church in need of healing will be a healer in the society in which we live.”