Pope gives last Sunday morning blessing

FRESNO, Calif.

That resignation is resonating with believers around the Valley.

Valley Catholics spent the day trying to process the resignation of the aging spiritual leader. "I am sad but I am glad he had the courage to admit that he can't function like he's supposed to. Not many people would admit that," said Mary Oaxaca.

In the South Valley more than 700 people packed Visalia's Holy Family Church. Many here had very mixed reactions. Father Daniel Avila heads the parish. He too has mixed emotions about the change, "He took on a responsibility to do so until death but he also realized in a church where there is so much rapid change it takes a person who has the ability to respond and to provide that leadership," said Father Avila.

Pope Benedict says he is not "abandoning the church" but will serve it in "a way more suitable to his age and strength."

Father Avila believes the decision comes at a challenging time for the faith. He said, "There is no doubt that we have had some real difficult times responding to issues of abuse and the issues in the church itself where people want to take the church, which direction the church wants to go."

On Thursday evening the Pope will officially resign. Next month it is up to the cardinals to elect the new head of the faith.

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