Locals react to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

The Pope steps down, first pope to resign in 600 years

CRAVEN COUNTY -  Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday that he will resign at the end of the month as spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the first time in almost 600 years a pope has stepped down.

We spoke with members at Saint Paul's Catholic Church in New Bern to see how they feel about The Pope stepping down.

"I was shocked. I'm not sure I believed it and then I went and ran to the computer and it was true," said Reverend Monsignor Gerald Lewis.

He says he stands by the pope's decision to step down.

"I think it's a courageous step the Holy Father has taken and I'm proud of him, that he'd be able to say that now is the time for him to step down," said Monsignor Lewis.     

Monsignor Lewis said he would like to see someone from Asia become the next pope and feels it's not the right time for an American pope.

Jimmy Stokes is a member of Saint Paul's Catholic Church and said when he heard the news he was shocked.

"I was deeply saddened but i did mass and just prayed for him," said Stokes.

Dan Miller, also a member of Saint Paul's Catholic Church, said the pope has served the Catholic Church his entire life and he respects his choice to resign.

"Making this decision is a decision he prayed about and asked the lord for guidance, and he made this decision because of what he felt was the right time to step down," said Miller.

Miller believes under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the cardinals will choose the right person to take the popes place.

Monsignor Lewis says North Carolina has more than a half million Roman Catholics.

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