New York Catholics Stunned by Pope's Decision to Step Down

Catholics in New York were stunned by Pope Benedict XVI's announcement Monday that he would be stepping down as pope later this month. 

"That's terrible to hear," said Manhattan resident Dave Stacker outside Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

Stacker noted that he had been excited the pope was just starting to branch out into social media and more modern forms of communication with his followers.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision to abdicate his position on Feb. 28 during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he told the cardinals in Latin.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said on "Today" Monday that he was surprised to hear the news about the pope who appointed him to his post.

"I'm as startled as the rest of you and as anxious to find out what's going on," he said.

Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pope to abdicate since Pope Celestine V stepped down in 1294.

Stacker said he respected the pope's decision to step down because of health reasons, but wondered how it would affect the Catholic church.

"Whatever's in his best interest, I support that," he said "It's gonna be tough. Where do we go from here?"

Staten Island resident Stephen Nolan said that while news of the pope's resignation was upsetting, he was confident the church would move forward without much disruption.

"I think everything will be fine," Nolan said. "I think they'll find a new pope and things will be all right. I hope he gets well."

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