The Associated Press reported Monday that Pope Benedict XVI would resign, effective Feb. 28, due to health concerns.
This will make him the first pope to resign in about 600 years.
"Well, I never thought it would happen," said Rev. Bill Donnelly of St. Michael Parish.
Benedict, 85, was elected by the College of Cardinals in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.
"He sounds like a man of wisdom," Donnelly said of Pope Benedict XVI. "As a recognized theologian, his writing seems to have great influence among those who reflect upon theological issues. He's a great theologian."
Donnelly said he couldn't comment on what qualities the next pope should have.
"When it comes to global affairs, I'm as parochial as the next person," he mused.
Rev. Robert Deeley, Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Boston, issued the following statement about the Pope's announcement:
“We have received the Holy Father’s announcement that, having prayerfully discerned that due to physical limitations he is no longer able to fulfill the responsibilities of his office, he will resign effective February 28t. At this time we give thanks to God for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI’s faithful leadership of the Roman Catholic Church during the past 8 years of his papacy. We assure the Holy Father of our prayers and fidelity during these final weeks of his service as the Vicar of Christ. In particular I offer my personal gratitude to the Holy Father for the experience of working closely with him during my time in Rome with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I know of his deep and abiding love for the Church and for fulfilling the saving ministry of Jesus.”
On our Facebook page, readers expressed surprise at the announcement.
"Astounded, concerned but hopeful...When elected, Benedict XVI was expected to be a "short termer" which would provide the Cardinals time to seek out their perfect candidate," Cathy Haubner wrote.
"It is historic, a Pope has not resigned in 600 years! He must be quite ill," Maria Rae wrote.