TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - We caught up with two parishioners at Saint James Catholic Church in Tupelo as they worked to tidy up after weekend mass.
Part of their conversation on this day is about the resignation of Pope Benedict.
Kris Ivancic said, "I don't know what his issues are, although he looks like he's not in very good health. I think it's courageous of him to say he can't do this anymore and I need someone else to do it. To break tradition like that, to me, is very courageous."
They say Pope Benedict has been an effective leader of Catholics worldwide and one many will miss.
Debbie Shutiok said, "When he first came in he had a reputation of being a bulldog and very unbending. I think he changed that a lot. We're so far removed from that hierarchy but still have to follow what he says. You might not always agree, but you have to find the middle ground for you."
The priest at Saint James says whomever succeeds Pope Benedict will be watched closely by Catholics here locally.
Father Lincoln Dall said, "We're currently celebrating the 'Year of Faith' which Pope Benedict declared himself. The pope, by what he emphasizes and what he teaches, can really color and influence the church on a local level very much. Who we have as a leader has a great influence on us as Catholics."
Local Catholics we spoke to say they see this resignation as an opportunity.
Church leaders have called this is a very somber moment because the pope is their spiritual leader.
Those who attend church here say there is great optimism moving forward.
Kris Ivancic said, "Certainly the Holy Spirit has guided the pope in his decision. It's an opportunity for us to look forward to what God's calling is to in the future."