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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For about one billion Catholics around the world, the news of Pope Benedict XVI resigning came as a big surprise. The same was true for the Catholic Diocese in Raleigh. “I was absolutely stunned and surprised. There were no indicators I saw,” Bishop Michael Burbidge said.

After an eight-year tenure, the 85-year old pope said his strength had detoriated and that he could no longer adequately fulfill the duty entrusted to him.

Parishioner Paul Townend says although the development was shocking, it doesn’t seem out of the pope’s nature to withdraw his commitment after feeling like he could no longer reach the people in a personal way. “Being able to show up places and physically be there, I think he really understood how important that was.”

The German cardinal was elected in 2005. He had some big shoes to fill as the successor of the beloved John Paul II. Bishop Burbidge says the pope brought a new approach to the position. “I think when Benedict was elected, it allowed the church to be serene, to be calm and benedict guided the church beautifully.”

Moving forward, the bishop says the next pope will likely come from the school of cardinals and leaders will depend on divine appointment. “We will be praying intensely towards that very moment and that’s our role, to entrust the church to the one to whom it belongs, Christ.”

Pope Benedict’s nearly eight-year tenure was one of the shortest in Catholic history.

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