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Ordinary Catholics reacted to varying degrees when word reached them about the head of their church. Many took a modern and rational attitude. These responses were generally understanding.

Sheila Cusack, an English teacher visiting Paris said: “I was genuinely shocked when we heard, and yet, the second we start thinking about it, it’s maybe not as big a disaster as people might think straight off. Maybe they need somebody younger. A breath of fresh air.”

Also outside Notre Dame Cathedral, Frenchman Philippe Ghestem said: “It’s a wise decision if he feels he is unable to assume his function anymore. It’s a good thing. It will avoid the ordeal that happened before.”

Washingtonian Lorretta Flemming: “Pope Benedict was a great pope, and he followed in some big shoes, and I think he did a beautiful job, and I can only hope that for the church as well that it continues.”

At a farmer’s market in Croatia, vendor Manda Slosnjak said: “We are all human. You get old, you get sick… Poor guy, how could he (go on) if he is sick? That’s probably why he resigned.”

A Madrid resident identifying herself as Soledad said: “Nothing is going to happen. They elect another one and that’s it.”

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