SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Scarsdale and Eastchester residents seemed surprised that Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement from the papacy on Monday.
Citing age and health concerns, the 85-year-old pope announced that he would resign as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Feb. 28. He is the first pope to resign in 600 years.
Eastchester resident Donald Mann said that he wasn’t aware that the pope even had the capability to retire.
“They can retire? I always thought it was just something you do until you die,” he said. “I’m sure he has his reasons, but that’s not something I’ve ever heard of.”
Pope Benedict XVI – born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger – was elected pope in 2005 when he was 78 years old. He was the oldest elected pope since 1730. He was elected by the College of Cardinals after the death of Pope John Paul II.
Outside of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Scarsdale, Kaitlyn Gee was caught off guard by the announcement.
“It seemed to take them an awfully long time to pick him a few years ago, it’s definitely something that surprised me,” she said. “I wonder how long it will take them to find his successor, hope they’ve already started.”
The College of Cardinals will meet in conclave in Rome in March to select a successor.
In Scarsdale, resident David Chang said that this may open the door for an American pope. If that were to happen, it would be the first time in history that a pope was elected from the United States.
“He has every right to do this, especially if he’s having health issues,” he said. “Hopefully, they pick someone that is younger this time around. It would be neat to see an American leading the church, not a European.”