The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 11, 2013

Local Catholics praying for current, future popes

Lifelong Catholic Chris Schremmer, 33, vividly remembers when the man known to the world as Benedict XVI was chosen pope in 2005.

“I was pregnant with Jack and in bed with pretty awful morning sickness, so I watched a lot of the coverage on television,” she said. “It was my first experience with a conclave, and I remember being so excited when I heard ‘Habemus papam (We have a pope).’”

John Paul II was the only pope she had known until that point. She said she believes Pope Benedict stepped into some “very hard shoes to fill and has done an amazing job leading his flock.”

“He is a great source of inspiration and strength for our family, and we are grateful for him,” Schremmer said.

Once again, Monday morning found Schremmer at home watching news of the pope, this time tending two of her children who were fighting an illness. The family attends Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Pittsburg, Kan.

On Monday, the Vatican announced that the leader of the world’s more than 1 billion Roman Catholics would be stepping down at the end of the month — the first pontiff to do so since 1415.

“I was shocked when I heard the news,” Schremmer said. “We told our kids and then said some prayers for Pope Benedict and whomever his successor will be. He is only the second one during my lifetime, and historically a pope is pope until his death, so I was not expecting his resignation at all.

“However, he is an extremely holy man, and I have confidence that he would not make such a decision if he did not feel it was what God was calling him to do. We will pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals in electing the next pope, and we will look forward to hearing ‘Habemus papam’ again very soon.”

Catholics around the world shared her surprise Monday morning.

Jerry Rigdon, of Neosho, said the pope is aware that his health is declining.

“It’s good to know that he has the knowledge about when it’s best to leave,” Rigdon said.

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