LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Catholics across southern New Mexico are in shock after hearing the news of Pope Benedict's resignation.
Las Cruces Bishop Ricardo Ramirez has known Pope Benedict for many years, even before he was appointed the pope. Ramirez said he thinks the pope made the right decision.
"Here's a man with great power, one of the world leaders with enormous influence, and yet he's willing to let go of this power for the good of the church. It's a good sign of his integrity as a Christian and of his sanctity," Ramirez told ABC-7.
Ramirez said Pope Benedict will be remembered as one of the most brilliant popes in history, but Ramirez said he wasn't surprised to hear about the pope's resignation.
"The man is tired. You can tell. I visited with him in December. He was visibly tired and frail, and I think he's doing a good thing to resign for the good of the church. I take it as an act of humility on his part," Ramirez said. "Knowing the pope as I do, I think he'll step out of the way graciously and he will not interfere. I'm sure the new pope will consult him. I'm sure he'll give him some advice but he will stay out of the way."
Catholics across Las Cruces had mixed emotions about the news.
"It will be exciting and quite interesting for all of us to observe and reflect upon the role of leadership at the Vatican and how it does affect us here in Las Cruces," said David McNamara, the director of education and information at the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.
"I'm thinking well maybe he's so smart that he says, you know, I need to step so someone else can come in and be the shepherd of us," Las Crucen Gloria Alderette said.
Catholics in southern New Mexico are already dealing with change. Ramirez, the diocese's first-ever bishop, is retiring on the same day as the pope.
"I think the pope looked at me and said, 'I'm going to do it the same day as Bishop Ramirez is resigning.' I'm looking to how he takes it and he'll be a good example for me.," Ramirez said with a smile.