MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) Only a tiny fraction of Tennesseans are Catholic, but the state’s still buzzing over the pope’s announcement Monday that he plans to retire.
Pope Benedict says he’ll retire Feb. 28 because he’s become too infirm to handle the burdens of the papacy. He’s the first pope to step down in six centuries.
Rick Musacchio, a spokesman for the Diocese of Nashville, says local parishioners seem to be taking the news in stride.
“You know I think we’re hearing a lot of surprise, but not a lot of shock or upset feelings. People in the church understand that change can happen.”
Musacchio says Middle Tennessee Catholics will be paying close attention as the process for selecting a new pope goes forward.
“I think what will happen over the course of the next few weeks is there will be ongoing prayers for the Holy Father, prayers for the church, prayers for the conclave in selecting a pope; a new leader for the church.”
There are currently just over 140,000 Catholics in Tennessee, representing less than two-and-a-half percent of the state’s total population.