A small group of about 10 people trudged through snow early Monday to attend Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End, and after the service the parishioners voiced support for Pope Benedict’s decision to step down.
“I trust his judgment, that it’s the sensible and right thing to do,” said George Crombie, 73.
“The big issue is what kind of replacement are we going to get. It could be anybody. It’s worrisome because it’s important to get the right cardinal to lead the church. This caught me completely by shock,” said Crombie.
“I do think he made the right decision… the guy is old. I’m 100 percent behind him, but there are a lot of Catholics that aren’t. I think it’s like in the United States, with the red and blue states. It’s like that in the church with the conservatives and liberals,” Crombie said.
Guido Perez, 30, of Miami, who attends college in Boston, grew up in Colombia, a stronghold of Catholicism, with about 90 percent of the population identifying themselves as Catholics.
“Definitely this is shocking to the world, but our faith comes from above,” he said, holding an umbrella over his head as cover from light rainfall. “Do we believe in God because of someone human or a force above? He did the best he could during this time, describing how he did, who am I to do that. We are all humans, we do feel when we are capable of doing something or not. He and God are the only ones who know exactly what is going on, but at least he is being honest. Lets remember that God has a plan and things always happen for a reason.”
Karl Kazaka, 71, of the South End, said the pope made a good decision to step down. He said the pope did a “good job” during his leadership.
“The pope felt he can’t handle his job anymore and I agree with him on his decision. He admits he can’t handle it anymore and I think he is 100 percent right, and I think he is doing the right thing, to open it for somebody who can do a better job.”
In Medford, parishioners said they were shocked by the news, but understood the pope’s decision.
The Rev. Ed Doughty said a brief prayer for the pope during morning Mass today in the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Medford.
Elaine Mastrocola, of Medford heard the news on television before coming to St. Francis, her church for over 50 years.
“It’s just not done,” she said. “It took a lot of courage. I guess he realized he couldn’t be up to the job. More power to him for deciding to retire.”
Parishioner Eleanor Wright said she respected the pope’s decision.
“We were surprised,” she said. “It took a lot of courage.”
Doughty said he learned of the news early Monday morning when he received a text message from a fellow priest.
“I imagine he had immense pressure to stay,” he said. “He had enough courage to overcome that pressure, and he had enough self-knowledge to know he wasn’t up to the job. I think that’s admirable.”
While the work at the Vatican over coming weeks won’t impact the day-to-day of the church, Doughty said he will be watching it closely.
“We’re seeing something take place that hasn’t happened for hundreds of years,” he said. “From a history-watching standpoint, it will be so interesting, and kind of exciting to watch.”Globe correspondent Jarett Benks contributed to this story