Though a pope has not resigned in 600 years, Rev. Paul Sughrue of Saint Clare's Parish in Braintree said he believes it may become more common as the duties of the position remain demanding and people live longer.
"Let’s face it, there are a lot of responsibilities to be pope," Sughrue said in an interview Monday. "As people live longer, I think this will become a more common phenomenon. People can only do so much after a certain age even in good health.
"It makes emminently good sense, and his retirement I would pray he would enjoy because he has put in his time working for the church and doing the best he could serving God and his people."
Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will retire on Feb. 28 after less than eight years in office. Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II.
"I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of the position, Benedict said in a statement, according to the New York Times.
Rev. Sughrue said he heard from several parishioners Monday morning who expressed surprise at the announcement, but also optimism at what a new pope may bring to the church.
"The next pope needs to bring new life, new promise and new hope to a church that is in need of a new sense of direction," Rev. Sughrue said.
The pastor added that he will follow the process of choosing the next pope very closely.
"Who is selected impacts the life of every Catholic and people all over the world," Rev. Sughrue said. "It is probably one of the most prestigious and important jobs in the entire world."