Roman Catholics in Massapequa and around the country woke up to the sudden News that Pope Benedict XVI will step down at the end of February.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," the pope said in a meeting with cardinals Monday.
Pobe Benedict is 85 years-old and will turn 86 in April. THe Vatican is reportedly set to hold a conclave to select a new pope next month.
It is the first time a Pope has stepped down in nearly 600 years when Pope Gregory XII abdicated the papacy.
Fr. Ken Zach, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish in Massapequa said he was moved by Benedict's decision to recognize the limitations of advancing age.
"It’s a beautiful gesture to admit physical weakness," Zach said. "It is with a sense of extreme humility that Pope Benedict knows that he can no longer do what he was elected to do in heading the Church. "
Zach believes the Pope may have set a precedent which may make it easier for future Pope's wrestling with issues related to age and health.
"As the first pope to resign in over 600 years, he opens the way for future popes to follow suit as we are all living longer, yet facing increasingly difficult health issues related to the aging process," he said.
Area resident Kathleen Meyer expressed similar sentiments on Massapequa Patch's Facebook page.
" I'm sure it's very difficult for the Pope to fulfill his papal mission to visit so many different countries where the Catholic population has increased significantly," she said. "He is very strict in his views and perhaps he thinks he is serving God and the Church better by stepping down. Only God knows his reasoning."
Whatever the reason, Fr. Zach wished Benedict well in his retirement.
"The Universal Church will miss His Leadership and at the same time, wishes Him joy in the opportunity to use this time to continue the spiritual writing he does so well."
To learn more about Pope Benedict's papacy see this article from Reuters: