Learning that the Pope will resign at the end of February surprised some in Watertown and for others brought hope for that the Catholic Church may embrace more modern stance under his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday morning that he would resign — making him the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down from what is considered a lifelong post.
The news caught Watertown's John Madden off guard.
"I was quite suprised as I have never known it to happen," Madden said. "I also think it must of taken a great deal of thought and prayer for him to come to this decision."
Paul Fahey grew up attending St. Patrick's Church in Watertown and was an altar boy and a reader, but he left the Roman Catholic Church about 10 years ago because he disagreed with its stance on women and gays.
The resignation may be a good step for the church, Fahey said.
"I think it is a good thing," Fahey said. "I am not sure it will change anything. (Under the next Pope) I hope the church reflects a more modern era."
Fahey said he thinks Benedict's legacy was tainted by the church sex abuse scandal. For that reason, and because the Pope should be fit enough to perform his duties Fahey said he agreed with Benedict's decision to step down.
"It's ridiculous to stay on when you don't have the physical capability to do so," Fahey said.
Do you attend Sacred Heart or St. Patrick's churches? What do you think? Should Benedict have remained Pope for life, or is this the right move? Do you think the Catholic Church will change significantly under the next Pope? Share in the comment section below.