Chicago Catholics said they were shocked and even "kind of freaked out" about Pope Benedict XVI stepping down at the end of the month. Still, even as they reeled from the surprise announcement they said they support his decision.
"He knows himself, knows his health better than any of us," Holy Name member John Welch told NBC Chicago. "So if he thinks it's a good idea, then of course we wish him well."
Church members said they respect the pope and wish him well, though they said the move makes them a little uneasy about what's next.
"I kind of freaked out a little bit when I heard about it," local Catholic Regina Kardashian said. "I'm a little worried. If he's not feeling well, then he can't serve the people, which is his job. So hopefully he can get better and put someone in place that can do the job well."
"The Holy Father is awesome," David Suess said. "For him to retire like that, for me it's like losing a father."
In the end, Catholics said they're hopeful for the future of the church and look forward to Benedict's successor.
"I was just floored by it and it's going to take so long to start this process over again," Patricia Turner said. "But I think it's a good thing. He's going to turn it over now to someone who can take care of the business."