VIRGINIA BEACH-- This marked the first Sunday that Catholics are without a pope.
Pope Benedict left the Vatican Thursday, being the first pope to retire in 600 years.
“I was just really surprised, but I think obviously the Lord was speaking to him in some ways that we’re not sure about. Hopefully, he did what the spirit of the Lord wanted him to do,” Angela Westmeyer, a St. Gregory the Great parishioner said.
Father Mario Fulgenzi, at the Virginia Beach parish, was surprised too. “Of course we don’t always know what he is going through. For example, all of his health problems, whatever they may be, I personally don’t know.”
Now all the cardinals gather to decide who will be the next pope. Father Timothy Whalen, a rector at St. Francis Seminary in Latrobe Pennsylvania, was visiting St. Gregory’s Sunday.
“They don’t know how long the conclave is going to be. They’re meeting now. I bet they are going to meet throughout this week, and then next week they’ll probably call the conclave. Then they’ll try to get this done before holy week.”
Issues Pope Benedict leaves behind include the sexual abuse cases among Catholic priests. “I mean as sad and tragic and as hard as it was to go through, I’m glad we went through it. It had to be done, but now we can move on.”
St. Gregory parishioner Frank Westmeyer says the new pope will face a lot of issues. “I think it would be very nice if priests were allowed to be married. That’s a big one, but I think it would help the church as a whole.”