Plainview Roman Catholics were stunned along with the rest of world by 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.
"I was very surprised and stunned, said" the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy R.C. Church on South Oyster Bay Road.
It was a sentiment echoed by Monsinor Domenick Graziadio, pastor of St. Pius X in Plainview.
"Of course it was a shock it was the first time in 600 years," the Rev. Garziadio said. "But I believe the pope doesn't want to be a figure head. He wants to do the right thing for the Church."
The Rev. Graziadio added that he felt "happy for him," that Benedict could spend his final days without the pressures of the papacy. Graziadio himself is looking forward to his own retirement, in May.
The Rev. Costa added this perspective to the resignation: "The Holy Father was very close to Pope John Paul II and saw how debilitating the job had become for him when he was near the end of his papacy," Costa said. "It was not (Benedict's) desire to end his papacy the same way."
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 1 billion Roman Catholics.
Costa said the conclave, as always, will be unpredictable. "There are 22 new cardinals appointed by Benedict," he said. "You never know how these will go."
"We will pray for him," Graziadio said of the 85-year-old pontiff.
To learn more about Pope Benedict's papacy see this article from Reuters:
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