Rev. Anthony W. Verdelotti of St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church in Cranston was at the market this morning when a parishioner came up to him.
"What's happing to the Pope?"
Like the parishioner, Verdelotti had just heard that Pope Benedict XVI announced, in Latin, that he would resign from his position on Feb. 28.
"I'm as new to this as you are," Father Verdelotti said.
Like many Cranston Cathotlics and others, the news of the Pope's resignation was shocking. The last time a Pope resigned was 600 years ago and Verdelotti said he, like everyone else, is thinking: "what's next?"
"By all means, it caught everybody off guard," Verdelotti said. "But you know, he's 85 going on 86. God Bless Him."
The resignation is "history in the making," Verdelotti said. The Cardinals will join for the conclave and the election of a new Pope. Until that happens, whether Pope Benedict is resigning for health reasons or something else, "is all speculation."
"We don't know how it will all work out," Verdelotti said. "I thought he has been a great church leader and the speculation is that the next Pope will probably be a younger man, more energetic."
Millions came to know Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, as the charismatic and wordly leader who helped to modernize and humanize the image of the Catholic Church with his countless visits to every corner of the world.
So the election of a new Pope is a "very good opportunity," Verdelotti said.
Kerri Kelleher said it was "shocking."
"First time in 600 years..." she said.
Barry Albright said the next pope needs to be "very progressive no nonsense pope to replace him if they stand a chance of surviving."
Aileen McDonough said the resignation might be a sign of modern times.
"Old age and its attendant ill health can be managed, and diseases which past popes died from will be treated, so they will live on and feel the effects of the punishing schedule and responsibilities," McDonough said. "Just a speculation."
Edna DiSanto Micheletti said she gives the Pope credit for stepping down if he can't function "to full capacity."
Verdelotti said he will address the issue during Mass. And he, like Micheletti, gives the Pope credit for making the decision if it's God's will.
Besides, at 86, a man can't be blamed for wanting a break from work.
"I want to be around when I'm 86 and I don't want to be working," the Father said with a laugh.