SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Local Catholics attending mass today in the Sacramento area are praying for Pope Benedict as he continues with his next journey.

“In some ways it’s shocking to the people in the church and in the world,” said Father Michael Kiernan, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Carmichael.

Father Kiernan thinks people were surprised the pope stepped down because something like this has never happened in our lifetime.

“To give up power — nobody wants to give up power,” said Kiernan.

He says maybe Pope Benedict XVI felt he had done all he could for the church. Some attending mass today held back tears, recalling how frail the Pope is looking.

“If any of us weren’t able to do our work, have the humility and the decency to say ‘I can’t do this,’” said Kiernan.

It is part of the ups and downs of the church, according to Kiernan. A new pope will hopefully mean a stronger pope.

“[He] brings in a new set of ideas and a new vision to deal with the many challenges we have in the church,” said Kiernan.

Friday’s mass at the cathedral downtown will offer thanks to Pope Benedict for his service.

“I think people are understanding that it’s a decent thing to do,” Kiernan said.

Local Catholics are also praying for guidance to choose a new leader.

Monsignor James Murphy has been with the Diocese of Sacramento for more than 40 years and says this is an exciting and unprecedented time for the church. But it won’t be an easy road for the new pope who will have to tackle a number of issues.

“Obviously sexual abuse is one huge issue that will have to be dealt with. I think confronting secularism in the world — that whole mindset that we don’t need God, that man is the descent of the universe — that would be an issue; and just making the gospel relevant to the world today,” said Murphy.

Murphy thinks the odds of electing an American pope are slim, but says nothing is impossible. He also believes we’ll be seeing the new pope using more social media to get the church’s message out to the world.


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