"The idea of [a pope's] resignation is very uncommon," Father Charles O'Hara of Spring City's St. Joseph's parish said Monday following the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI would resign his position at the end of this month.
The Pope, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, released a statement saying that his physical and mental strength are "no longer suited to an adequate exercise" of the duties of his office.
"It was definitely a surprise," O'Hara said. As other reports have noted, a pope has not resigned in six hundred years.
O'Hara believes, however, that despite the shock of the announcement, the decision is not one that Pope Benedict XVI would take lightly.
"Benedict is not hasty, he thinks things through," O'Hara said. "He is conscious of his limitations."
In comparison to the previous Pope, John Paul II, O'Hara said Benedict is more of a theologian, more logical.
"John Paul II was much more of a pastoral presence, and he saw his last years as helping people understand the journey of his death," O'Hara said.
O'Hara said Pope Benedict's resignation might also help people step back and readdress some traditions within the church, especially in how popes live out their papacy.
O'Hara said that these days, priests are often overextended and the idea of resignation might help some priests "define their limitations."
O'Hara said he expects the changes to cause some tension within the church.
"I think the politics of it are fascinating," O'Hara said. "I don't think people know what to do with this."
"It opens up looking back at the church historically and seeing where processes and procedures both fit and don't fit," O'Hara said.
O'Hara said he was not sure if the Church would start the process of electing a new pope early, or if they would wait and follow the protocol after the resignation becomes effective on February 28.
However, O'Hara said, Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as someone who tried to bring the Church to the middle, even though he was more conservative.
O'Hara feels the changes brought by the resignation will be interesting.
"It will mark a new era for the church," O'Hara said.
[Editor's note: Patch contacted the pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Royersford, but he did not want to comment, and we were unable to reach the pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church.]