Valley reacts to resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

FRESNO, Calif.

Some people say they weren't surprised because Pope Benedict's health clearly has been an issue.

A successor is expected to be in place by Easter.

The announcement by Pope Benedict XVI caught many off guard around the globe. The 85-year-old pontiff cited his age and declining health. He will step down February 28.

Pope Gregory XII was the last pope to resign way back in 1415.

Ezequiel Gutierrez teaches religion at San Joaquin Memorial High School. He wasn't surprised by the pope's decision.

"In this situation I think Pope Benedict XVI really showed a lot of humility to be able to come to peace with himself and recognize that he can't possibly carry on his duties. It really shows he has a concern for the church," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said the pope's resignation was a popular topic for kids on campus.

Now the global focus shifts to the search for Pope Benedict's successor.

The College of Cardinals will meet next month to pray and vote on the new leader of the Catholic Church. The conclave takes place at the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

Ezequiel said, "Since Latin America and Africa have been some of the continents that have had the most growth of Catholics there's always been speculation the next pope might come from there. But the reality is no one knows. It really is the work of the Holy Spirit."

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan are all seen as strong contenders.

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