The Rev. Ed Doughty said a brief prayer for Pope Benedict XVI during morning Mass on Monday in the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Medford. Parishioners said they were shocked by the news, but understood the pope's decision to resign.
Elaine Mastrocola of Medford heard the news on television before coming to St. Francis, her church for over 50 years, on Monday.
"It's just not done," she said. "It took a lot of courage. I guess he realized he couldn't be up to the job. More power to him for deciding to retire."
Parishioner Eleanor Wright said she respected the pope's decision.
"We were surprised," she said. "It took a lot of courage."
Doughty said he learned of the news early Monday morning when he received a text message from a fellow priest.
"I imagine he had immense pressure to stay," he said. "He had enough courage to overcome that pressure, and he had enough self-knowledge to know he wasn't up to the job. I think that's admirable."
While the work at the Vatican over coming weeks won't impact the day-to-day of the church, Doughty said he will be watching it closely.
"We're seeing something take place that hasn't happened for hundreds of years," he said. "From a history-watching standpoint, it will be so interesting, and kind of exciting to watch."