Here in Reno, the Catholic community was both surprised and supportive of Benedict XVI's announced resignation.
"No we didn't have any prior notice," said Brother Matthew Cunningham of the Reno Diocese. "I heard it this morning, like everyone else."
Bishop Randolph Calvo did release a statement saying that while the announcement came as a surprise, "Given the tremendous burden of his worldwide ministry, I can support his reasons for this action."
He added that Pope Benedict has generously served God and the Catholic Community and asked that everyone keep him in their prayers.
In his resignation, Pope Benedict said he feels the challenges of the church in our modern world needs a new view and that he is no longer up to the job. Brother Matthew in Reno agreed, the world has changed, and ministering to the challenges of the modern world are tough. He said every religion seems to have lost members in out current society, not through any fault of anyone, it's the cultural climate.
"We don't expect anything with the church to change," Brother Matthew said. "In a way it is a selfless act. He has done a good job and now feels that he is no longer physically up to the task and it is time for someone new to take the reigns."
All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a pope has been elected.
There are currently 118 cardinals under age 80 and thus eligible to vote, 67 of whom were appointed by Benedict. However, four of them will turn 80 before the end of March. Depending on the date of the conclave, they may or may not be allowed to vote.
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