Churchgoers in La Crosse share the sentiments of Catholics around the world, saying they were shocked to hear Pope Benedict XVI resign at the end of the month.
About forty people attended the noontime mass at Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in downtown La Crosse. During the petitions, the priest asked the parishioners to pray for Pope Benedict XVI.
After mass, Kevin DuBois of Tomah says he was surprised when he heard the pope was resigning. "I think it was honorable that he decided, I'm sure he prayed about it. I think it's the right decision. I think that the Catholic Church will come out just as well if not better with a new pope. It'll be an exciting time for the church."
Twenty-two year old Rebecca Wycklendt of New Berlin says she attended the church's World Youth Day in Germany. She says Pope Benedict was reaching out to the youth, speaking to them in five languages. "He still was really our father in faith in a lot of ways and Pope Benedict did show a lot of love, a lot of concern for the church throughout the world and I think he will be missed."
At Roncalli Newman Catholic Center, Father James Kurzynski says the pope was a complex theologian known for enforcing the rules, yet thinking outside the box. "Here's somebody everybody presumed was going to be a really hard right, a very conservative pope. What's the first thing he's writing about? Environmental ethics. And he gets nicknames, 'The Green Pope.'"
Fr. Kurzynski says with time, hopefully his philosophical legacy will overshadow the church's abuse scandals.