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Hoboken's Catholic Community Surprised with Pope's Resignation

For the first time in nearly six centuries, a pope is stepping down. Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28.

Hoboken's Catholic community expressed surprise on Monday, after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, but overall admired the pope for letting go of his power. 

"It took the world by shock," said Father Alex Santora, pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church.

Santora called the pope's decision to step down "courageous."

It's the first time in nearly 600 year that a pope steps down rather than dies while in office.

"I think he's sick," said Michael Mastrapasqua, who attends the Church of Sts Peter and Paul. Mastrapasqua said the pope probably didn't want to die in office, but make sure that someone would take over.

"He decided to step down so that somebody more vigorous could take over," Santora said.

The 85-year-old pope is scheduled to step down on February 28.

Now, the Catholic community is left wondering who will succeed Benedict XVI as pope.

An American pope, according to Hobokenites, is not very likely.

"It's possible," Santora said, "but I think it's improbable."

Nearby Cardinal Dolan in New York City is too young to become pope, Santora said. Furthermore, the church might want to pick someone from other regions of the world, where the church is growing rapidly, Santora added.

It's time to take the Catholic church into the 21st century, Santora said.

"There are issues with regards to women, power, transparency. These are all issues that have to be acknowledged in some way. We can't keep our heads in the sand and live in the past era," Santora said.

Benedict XVI was a traditional pope with a Euro centric view. The new pope, Santora said, could potentially be hispanic or from a Third World country, Santora said.

With Ash Wednesday coming up, Santora said he might incorporate the principle of power — and especially letting go of it — into Wednesday's mass.

"I think that pope gives a good example of someone who was able to step away," Santora said. "He was able to give up (his power) and still keep his integrity."

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