by ABC 6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
At the noon Mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, there were prayers for Pope Benedict the Sixteenth, who announced he will resign at the end of this month.
Parishioners - who praised the Pope - were stunned. David Peshek, a Providence Catholic said, "Big surprise. Huge Surprise.
Michael Anderson, a Providence Catholic said, "I think he's a wise man. I think he's doing the right thing. He's obviously though it out and made his choice."
Equally as surprised was Bishop Thomas Tobin, who has met the Pope a number of times, including during a photo of the two back in 2007.
Bishop Tobin, who leads the Diocese of Providence said, "He's a wonderful man. A man of great intellect. A very holy man. Wise, still, but very humble. And I think it's that sense of humility that's led him to take this move."
And just 15 months ago the Pope presented Bishop Tobin, with a special medal, known as the "Benedict Cross."
Mark Curtis asked "That's a special memento? And Bishop Tobin responded, "It is for sure."
ABC6 Reporter Mark Curtis said, "As for who might succeed Pope Benedict, there has been speculation in recent years that the next Pope might come from South America or Africa, two continents with fast growing Catholic populations."
Bishop Tobin says that may be a consideration, but not the determining factor.
"But in the end it will be the Holy Spirit who directs the selection of a new Pope. Will it be someone from a Third World, someone from Europe, who knows? Only God knows. It's always interesting to speculate about it, but we really don't know at this point," Bishop Tobin said.
Bishop Tobin believes a new Pope will be in place, by Easter Sunday which is March 31st.