Religious leaders right here in Western New York are reacting to Pope Benedict's resignation. YNN's Kate McGowan spoke to some about the legacy the pontiff leaves behind.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just hours after Pope Benedict the 16th resigned Monday, Bishop Richard Malone led mass in a South Buffalo church.
The bishop says the news came as a shock to him but he says he knew the Pope was fragile and his health was declining.
"I certainly had no knowledge that this was coming, no one did. I don't even think the Cardinals, who are his closest collaborators knew, everyone was caught be surprise."
Bishop Malone says the last time he saw the Pope in person was back in 2011. He remembers the Pope as a gracious and gentle man, who had a deep understanding of present day culture. He says his legacy will always be cherished.
"He'll be remembered as a man who had some beautiful things to say about the importance of being hopeful," said Malone.
"He's spent a lot of time putting into very concrete form, theological foundations for many key issues the church is confronting not only in this time and age, but in the past so he's surely left a great legacy," said Monsignor David Slubecky, Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
Malone says when Pope Benedict was elected in 2005, the Catholic church was somewhat overshadowed by sex abuse scandals, but he says Pope Benedict was a strong force in drawing attention to this.
"He dealt with it forcefully and as a Catholic, I was glad to see it was an outrage and I'm glad he dealt with it appropriately," said Steven DiLorenzo, parishioner.
Many now wonder who Benedict's successor will be.
"I hope and pray it's exactly the right person we need, whoever he is. But I'd love to see a pope come from Africa or India or the Phillipines or South America."
Those in the church say they now pray for a peaceful transition to the next Pope.
But they'll always remember Pope Benedict's impact.
"He carried a heavy cross but he did it with grace and dignity and with time he has left, I really do wish him well," said DiLorenzo.