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UPDATED-Pope's Resignation Sad, Bittersweet For Scarsdale

Residents are reacting to the breaking news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on Feb. 28.

After this morning's announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month, Scarsdale Catholics are surprised and saddened to hear of the beloved pope's decision.

Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope to resign in the past 600 years. CNN reported that the Pope told the cardinals on Monday of his decision. He is resigning "because of advanced age," CNN quoted the 85-year-old pope as stating.

Here in Scarsdale, resident Catherine Barr Windels said the announcement is bittersweet for her and recalled the day she learned Cardinal Ratzinger was named the new Pope.

"When I heard the news, I thought back to the day Pope Benedict was elected," the Our Lady of Fatima parishioner said. "I had heard on my car radio that the white smoke had gone up, and rushed home to see who the new Pope would be. I was so happy when I heard that it was Cardinal Ratzinger!"

"I think he has been a superb Pope in very, very difficult times, and I trust him to have made the right decision regarding his resignation," Windels told Patch. "It is sad, because we know his health is failing, but it is also exciting that we will have a conclave to choose a new Pope."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement this morning.

"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did," Dolan stated. "His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter."

Msgr. John Ferry, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scarsdale and the Regional Vicar of Central Westchester, said he "was personally surprised" when he heard the announcement this morning on the radio.

"I think he left his mark on the church," Ferry told Patch. "He is a very brilliant man. He's written a lot of books on (the life of) Jesus" and issued a lot of important statements.

"It was a courageous decision on his part" to realize he was diminished by age and to decide to leave the papacy, the monsignor said.

"I give him a lot of credit for making this difficult decision," Ferry said. 

Rev. Francisco Sebastian P. Bacatan, pastor of the Church of Saint Pius X in Scarsdale said "we truly admire the humility and courage of his holiness, Pope Benedict XVI in accepting his abilities and limitations in serving the Roman Catholic Church."

"We believe that the Holy Spirit will guide her Mother Church, and choose the new Shepherd who will best serve her," Rev. Sebastian said. "Eventually, the leadership that the church needs is the one that the Holy Spirit will give us."

What is your reaction to the Pope's resignation? Share in the comments section or email lisa.gentes@patch.com today.

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