MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Many of South Florida’s 1.3 million Catholics woke early Wednesday morning to watch Pope Benedict’s last general audience before he officially steps down on Thursday.
During the emotional address, the pontiff said his decision to resign was for the good of the Roman Catholic Church.
In Pinecrest, Father Paul Vuturo watched the pope’s final message from his living room. Father Vuturo believes Pope Benedict’s decision to step down was a selfless one that will make the church stronger.
“He’s saying it’s not me, it’s Jesus, it’s his church and I was able to serve it for a while and, he said, I’m very much at peace now with this decision that I’m resigning,” said Father Vuturo. “It was a very reassuring, comforting, statement of his faith and just trusting in God.”
Father Vuturo added that while news of the resignation initially came as a shock, the selection of a new pope was inevitable.
“Popes come and go, if you’ve been around awhile, popes lived, they die, this one resigns-we’ll get a new one. But the church continues,” said Father Vuturo.
Father Vuturo said he was very excited about Pope Benedict’s message that the pope was not larger than the church.
When asked if he had any thoughts on who he’d like to see as the next pope, Father Vuturo said he’s leave that up to the Cardinals in Vatican City.
Father Vuturo, who held his daily mass at Saint Louis Catholic, focused the service on praying for the pope.
“Bless our holy father Pope Benedict for the service he has given to your church, fill him with your peace and blessings,” prayed Father Vuturo during the service.
Parishioners at the service said they too enjoyed Pope Benedict’s message.
“Making sure we understand it is about serving the Lord, and he is stepping down to make sure more service can take place,” said Thomas Cruz-Wiggins.
Mary Osterberger was initially surprised when she learned Pope Benedict had announced he was going to resign but said she appreciates him stepping down early if he wasn’t up to the task.
“This pope just seems to be so intellectual,” said Osterberger. “He is inspired I think through his mind. So it’s a logical thing.”
Osterberger said she knows what kind of pope she would like to see next.
“I think we need a young, dynamic, evangelical outreaching kind of person,” said Osterberger. “I think the world is just moving so quickly and its got to be somebody that can keep up with all the newer means of communication.”
Pope Benedict will formally leave office Thursday night. The Cardinals will then begin consultations before a conclave in which his successor will be chosen.