ATLANTA (AP/WAOK) – Around the world, Roman Catholics are expressing disbelief and grief over the resignation of Pope Benedict, the first papal resignation in six centuries.

Some are seeing it as a sign of crisis in the Church.

Others see it as a dramatic act of humility by a pope who found he could no longer handle his duties. Father Luis Rivero of the Archdiocese of Miami says, “There are times that only we know that we have to let go.”

And many are expressing hope that a more energetic and charismatic new pope will lead the church into a new era. A parishioner outside the cathedral in the Cuban capital of Havana said, “The church must bring itself up to date with the modern world.”

There are also renewed calls for a pope from the developing world. The number of believers is growing in Africa, and half the world’s Catholics live in Latin America. The bishop of Fatima in Portugal, Antonio Marto, says there’s a “freshness” and an “enthusiasm about living the faith” among Catholics in Africa and Latin America.

In Nigeria — the nation with the biggest Christian population in Africa — there are some 20 million practicing Catholics. One man there says there’s already a black American president — and now, he says, he’d like to see a black pope.


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