GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - In the wake of news that Pope Benedict XVI is quitting his job, many of the world's 1 billion Catholics reacted with a mixture of shock and concern.
But at the Denver Archdiocese, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila's reaction was one of support and anticipation.
A statement posted on the archdiocese website Monday (archden.org) noted the pope's announcement and asked "all Christians, and all people of good will, to join me in lifting their hearts in gratitude to the Father for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI in his service to Jesus Christ, the Church and all humanity.
"At 85," the archbishop's message continues, "the Holy Father has heard the Lord call him to resign from his office due to his physical weakness and to prepare for a new shepherd to come forward in leadership to the Church."
Locally, Father Cliff McMillan of St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Glenwood Springs said Benedict's decision was expected by some.
"It's not a surprise, because he had spoken very clearly in the last year about his moral responsibility to retire if his health started to get worse," said McMillan, who added that he did not expect there to be any negative ramifications for his church or his congregation.
"We don't have any concerns here," he said.
This is the first time a pope has resigned in more than 600 years. The last was Pope Gregory XII, who resigned his position in 1415 during a struggle for control of the church.
As the question of succession dominated the international news wires and the Internet, bookmakers in England picked Cardinal Peter Turkson, of Ghana, with odds of 5-1 that he would be elected by the College of Cardinals, according to a story in The Guardian-US Edition.
In Canada, the odds were favoring Cardinal Mark Quellet of Quebec.