Glen Cove Roman Catholics shared the rest of world's surprise at the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI would step down at the end of February.
The announcement came in Rome from the ailing pontiff, who has been in deteriorating health, and indicated he is too sick to carry on his duties.
"It's certanly a surprise," said Father Elias Carr, pastor of St. Rocco's Church. "This will be a time of disorientation and dis-ease, but he's doing it at a time when he can help with the transition."
Carr said the Pope's reasons are understandable, noting the pontiff's statement in which he cited his "advanced age" and diminishing strength.
"It's reasonable for a person of his age to want to put down the burden of the office," Carr said.
Carr suggested the church's child abuse scandals and "personal betrayals" within the Vatican may have been particularly taxing for Benedict.
Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, reigned from 1978 until his death in 2005 and is on the path to Sainthood. Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has reigned since April 2005.
Benedict's resignation sets the stage for the conclave, a secret meeting in Rome of all church Cardinals under 80 years old to decide his successor.
The word "conclave" means, literally, "with a key." Symbolically, the College of Cardinals can not leave the conclave without deciding on a new leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics.
To learn more about Pope Benedict's papacy, see this article from Reuters.
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