Parishioners at St. Agnes Catholic church react to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation

PHOENIX - Parishioners at St. Agnes Catholic church in Phoenix reacted to news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation. Many said it came as a surprise.

Dominique Ruiz was on her way to Monday Mass when she heard the news.

"I don't know what to feel," she said.

Ruiz said she was blessed to be in the presence of the Pope a few years ago when she attended one of his speeches as a teenager. "He's amazing. (Full of) wisdom," she said.  

Ruiz admired his influence and ability to reach both younger and older people. He was the first Catholic Pope to use Twitter. He's been tweeting since December and has 1.5 million followers.   

A day before his resignation announcement, he tweeted: "We must trust in the mighty power of God's mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new."

The Pope announced that he will resign February 28 at a meeting of the Cardinals in the Vatican. He will be the first pontiff to step down in 600 years. He cited his declining strength and health as the reason for his decision.

Father Pat Gavin, with St. Agnes, said the news was a shock even though he was aware that the Pope had prior health problems.

"We're all just trying to be open to the mystery of the future and hopefully we'll have a new Pope before long, just a matter of weeks," he said.

"All we can do is pray," Ruiz said.

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