NEWS that the Pope is to resign has shocked Roman Catholic clergy in Hartlepool.
Pope Benedict XVI revealed he is to step down from his position at the helm of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the month. He said he is too old to continue.
The shock resignation came as a surprise to Anne-Marie Lavelle, who is chaplain at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, in Catcote Road, Hartlepool.
The 34-year-old told the Mail: “I’m in shock but I’m not in despair.
“I’m surprised because it was unexpected and also Popes just don’t resign because Pope John Paul II went through to his death.
“So this must be pretty serious if he feels he can’t do it anymore because he’s not a quitter.
“He’s survived a lot of horrific things in his life like the Second World War, growing up in Nazi Germany as a young boy and losing his family members.
“I’m sad because as a generation we’ve grown to love him. But we have to trust that he’s making the right decision, that it’s God’s will and that there is something better to come.”
And Roman Catholic Norman Imms, who met the Pope at The Vatican, in Rome, Italy, last year, said he was saddened.
The 67-year-old charity worker, of Peterlee, who works closely with Acre Rigg Primary School, also in Peterlee, said: “I saw him last April on behalf of the school and at that time I thought he looked very tired and frail but he was still very alert and very interested in what I had to say.
“I’m very humbled and very grateful that I got to meet him, I’ll never forget it.”
Father Hugh McCann, of St Thomas More’s Roman Catholic Church, in Easington Road, Hartlepool, was equally as shocked.
He said: “I did not know and I’m really surprised because normally they die in office.
“But I suppose it’s quite normal in any walk of life that if someone feels too old to carry on then they would want to step down.
“Maybe he wants to rest, we all need a rest now and then.”
At 78, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected.