Suncoast reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's plan to resign

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SARASOTA - Pope Benedict 16th is the first papal to resign in nearly 600 years.

The pontiff calls his choice, "A decision of great importance for the life of the church."

At noon, Mass began at St. Martha's, and people we talked too today are all very supportive of the pope and his decision to resign.

With the pope cited his age for his resignation and many people here on the Suncoast are speculating that his health has become such a factor, that resigning is the reasonable thing to do.

People say they feel the pope is doing the admirable thing by resigning now, rather than continuing as pope knowing he's not capable of doing the job to the best of his ability.

“That's real leadership. If he's really head of the church, then that's what he should do, he should step down and let someone else who can do a better job do it,” says Christian Lemon.

“When he was elected he didn't seem to be in that great of health to me personally. I didn't think his health was that good, and evidently, he's had more and more difficulty, I think that's been obvious. We're going to miss him, we love him, and our prayers are with him,” says St. Martha Catholic Church member Joy.

“He has been a wonderful Pope, and I do think it's his age, and if you don't have the strength sometimes to manage your own home, he's managing billions of Catholics all throughout the world. That's a big job, and when you're over 80 you better conserve your strength just a little bit to live day to day and he has to live for all of us,” says St. Martha Catholic Church member Maria.

For now, the people we talked to say they'll be praying, not only for the pope, but also for all those involved in selecting a new pope.