BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
Monday morning's announcement that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning caught many local Catholics off guard.
"I thought I was dreaming. This doesn't happen very often," said Arturo Revelo.
"I'm happy for pope benedict and I give him credit for making the decision to break with tradition over the last 600 years and actually say I'm tired and I want to step back," said Monisgnor Perry Kavoorkjian of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.
Bishop Armando Ochoa from the Fresno Diocese released a statement saying, "As with many of the one billion Catholics worldwide, the timing of the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI resignation caught us all by surprise. However, his avocation of the papacy didn't necessarily do so. As early as two years ago he made it quite clear that the resignation of a pope was always on the table. I last saw the 85 year old Pope Benedict in mid April of last year, and he indeed appeared fragile," said Ochoa.
"I'm glad that he's doing it because he is old and we need a more progressive church," said Jeanne Van Mullem.
"I think he should have stayed there," said Revelo.
Revello believes the pressure from controversies like the church's sex abuse scandal and the pope's comments that outraged Muslims and Jews influenced Benedict's decision to resign.
"Not everybody that comes to give us peace successfully does that," said Revelo.
He said that along with the Pope's advancing age..."I think he felt against the wall, there was no choice," said Revelo.