HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON,N.Y. - Residents and church leaders in the Rivertowns responded with prayers to Monday's announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would resign effective Feb. 28
Pope Benedict , 85, said in a statement released by the Vatican in Rome that his health is failing. He will be the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign in almost 600 years. German-born Joseph Ratzinger has been Pope Benedict XVI for eight years.
"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," Pope Benedict said. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering."
Rev. Matthew Fernan, Pastor of St. Matthew's Church in Hastings-on-Hudson, said he and his parishioners would be praying for Pope Benedict and for the College of Cardinals, which is expected to choose the next Pope sometime in the next three or four weeks, according to a statement by the Vatican.
"This announcement by His Holiness gives us a bit of preparation and time for reflection on the life of Joseph Ratziner and Pope Benedict," Ferman said. "The church will have an opportunity to thank him for his work and at the same time pray for the Cardinals and their choice of the next Pope. The Pope's statement reflected great humility in his decision to step down."
Ferman said he believed the Catholic Church has been reaching out more throughout the world and that Pope Benedict's statement reflected that he felt unable to fulfill certain obligations.
"It is quite edifying to know that the Holy Father made this decision after much consultation and prayer," Ferman said.
Several Rivertowns area residents commented on The Daily Voice Facebook page.
"God bless him," Rita Devlin said.. "I can't believe it's already been eight years."
Gene Brown repeated Ferman's sentiment about prayer for Pope Benedict.
"Please pray for His Holiness Pope Benedict the XVI (Matthew 16:18)," Brown commented on Facebook .
Beth Propper said, "Very brave choice, and well-timed before Easter".