Minnesotans shocked by Pope's resignation

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“Like everyone else, I was blown away. Popes just don’t resign,” Rev. Richard Kunst, a renowned collector of historical papal memorial and papal historian, tells the Duluth News Tribune.

Pope Benedict XVI stunned billions of Roman Catholics around the world with the announcement of his resignation Monday, the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years.

Kunst, who is parish priest of St. John the Evangelist in Duluth, says Pope Benedict XVI may have been thinking of resigning for months. Last year, Benedict visited the tomb of Celestine V, a pope who resigned in 1294 because he thought he was in over his head, Kunst says.

Shocked students at Totino-Grace, a Catholic High School, say they were unaware a pope could resign. WCCO reports.

At the Basilica of St. Mary's in Minneapolis, staff members are looking up the protocol for the church.

“At a Basilica, when a Pope dies, the doors are to be draped in black bunting,” Johan Van Parys, the director of liturgy, tells WCCO. “We don’t know quite what to do so we will have to dig in historical literature to determine what a Basilica does when a Pope resigns.”

Benedict's service will end at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28. CNN reports the secret conclave of cardinals will meet 15 to 20 days after the pope steps down to decide who will replace him.

Vatican experts have identified five possible replacements.

Catholic students at the University of Minnesota told KARE 11 they hope the next pope connects with young followers and brings zeal to the next generation of Catholic followers.

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