New Jersey Catholics are shocked and saddened by Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign at the end of the month.

Most Rev Paul G. Bootkoski, Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen (Diocese of Metuchen

Most Rev. Paul G. Bootkoski, Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen asked for prayers for the pontiff. "It is not a complete surprise, however, that this man of great humility and dedication would recognize his inability to carry out fully the duties his office requires and would put first what ultimately is best for the Catholic Church and its members," he said in a press release.

Monsignor William Benwell,the Vicker General of the Diocese of Metuchen, says he was in "absolute shock" when he heard the news on Monday morning and does not believe that anyone in the Church saw this coming.

"It took the Church totally by suprise," said Benwell, who compared this to the sudden death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 after just 33 days as Pope.

Pope Benedict's legacy, he thinks, will be that of being a teacher and professor.

"Life will go on" in the church, believes Benwell,  and the impact of his resignation will not be immediately felt except for the extra attention the church will receive.

Bishop Not Completely Suprised

(L-R) Diocese of Trenton Bishop David M. O'Connell meets Pope Benedict XVI (Diocese of Trenton)

Trenton Bishop Most Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M says he is "saddened" by Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign but isn't completely surprised.

O'Connell recalled to Townsquare Media New Jersey seeing the pontiff in December and described him as looking "incredibly tired" and compared Benedict's appearance to that of Pope John Paul II in his final years.

O'Connell, who was appointed Bishop by O'Connell in 2010, spoke fondly of the Pontiff. "I have always found him to be gentle and kind, despite the contrary perception created by some," he said in a prepared statement.

"He was an incredible pope," said O'Connell, aware that not everyone would agree with his opinion. He felt Benedict was  "the perfect person to take the place of Pope John Paul II." As a theologian, O'Connell thinks the pope was able to relay the teachings of the church in an understandable fashion for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

He believes Benedict leave the church in good shape citing his "Year of Faith" campaign to recruit Catholics who have fallen away from their faith and re-energize the church.


Matthew White contributed to this story.