CSRA Catholics' reactions split on Pope's resignation - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

CSRA Catholics' reactions split on Pope's resignation

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

In a shocking address to the cardinals at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI says he will step down from his position on February 28th. The announcement stunning members of the church around the world, including our area.

"It's a shock because it hasn't happened in hundreds of years that a pope has resigned," said Michael Lammers, Aquinas High School campus minister. "But he's such a prayerful man, and he makes his decisions out of prayer. And so when we're guided by prayer, you know I'm very confident that he knows what he's doing."

This is the first time a pope has resigned in nearly 600 years.  Some church leaders in our area were not as surprised.

"Several times, he has hinted that if his health ever impeded him from being able to be effective as pope and carry out his duties as pope then he would resign," said Father Pablo Magone of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Augusta.

But the 85-year-old pontiff's timing to resign is even more shocking to church members. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday; a day that marks the start of the Lenten season; a vital period of prayer and sacrifice in the Catholic faith.

"It's huge," Lammers said. "It's a time to prepare our minds; just to get more in touch with the passion in death and what Christ did for us."

Even though the pope governs billions in the Catholic Church, church leaders say worshipers won't feel a direct impact as lent begins.

"What keeps the church going is no one particular human being, but it's Christ Himself present among us," Father Magone said.

Today Pope Benedict XVI called his choice to resign "a decision of great importance for the life of the church." He says he will dedicate the rest of his life to prayer.

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