Pope Benedict XVI Steps Down, Locals React
COACHELLA VALLEY--Catholics across the valley are also still shocked by the Pope's announcement. He's stepping down as Pontiff.
It's been 600 years since the last pope stepped down. Pope Benedict XVI says his health is too fragile to continue. It's a decision religious leaders and devout Catholics from Palm Desert to Palm Springs say they believe is the right one.
The pope's decision is unexpected for parishioners and religious leaders.
"I was kind of surprised by it but I know the pope is 85 years old and his health was an issue. I know he was doing what he thought was best for the church and for the Catholic people," John Momany, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Palm Springs said.
"The humility that he had in really trying to do the will of god that had to be a very difficult choice for him," Father David Foxen, Missionary of the Sacred Heart said.
It's a choice Father Foxen believes is the right one.
"He spent a lot of time praying about this and making the decision because he recognized that he was obviously now he's 85 years old and getting weaker," Father Foxen said.
Benedict became pope in 2005 after the death of John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI is the first social media pope, tweeting in 7 languages. He also led the church through much of the abuse scandal.
"He is known and has been known as God's sweeper. He came into office to help resolve numerous problems in the church not the least of which in any means is child molestation," Father Howard Lincoln, Pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert said.
Father Lincoln says Pope Benedict XVI did his best to rid the church of what he called filth. His decision to leave the papacy is based solely on his personal health.
"He was a real scholar and a real holy man, and I hope the next pope will be similar," Eileen McGowan, parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Palm Springs said.
Benedict is the first pope to step down since the year 1415. His future role, if any, in the church is unknown.
-- Adrianna Weingold