The news that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning spread among Rochester-area Catholics.
"We just found out on television. I never even thought of such a thing happening," said Mary Ellen Gorton, a parishioner at St. Margaret Mary Church in Irondequoit.
"If he doesn't feel up to doing his duties, then he should step aside and let someone else take over," said Raymond Gorton, a parishioner at St. Margaret Mary Church in Irondequoit.
Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope in 600 years to resign.
He said he doesn't have the strength to continue in his old age.
Father Kevin McKenna is pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester and author of several books on Catholicism.
He said he learned of the news through a text message and then on the news.
Fr. McKenna said it's the right decision, even though it is virtually unprecedented.
"I think he had great concerns for the church and as he felt his health was diminishing he felt he would spare the church some trauma if he should become incapacitated or in someway unable to fulfill his ministry," said
Pope Benedict's favorable rating among Catholics and Americans dropped in recent years amid criticism of the church's handling of child sex abuse by priests.
But some Catholics say the Pope's resignation shouldn't be taken out of context.
"I have read the twitter and stuff, it's like it's a scandal. And I am like 'no, it's not a scandal. I can't believe that.' I have to believe it's just health reasons," said Cheryl D'Angelo.
And now many Catholics are praying for who will follow.