"I hope this is good for the church. I wasn't the biggest fan of Pope Benedict," said Patrick Bruner Reyes, 27, a doctorial student at the Claremont School of Theology and a Catholic.
"Hopefully, they will get a more open-minded pope. He was pretty good with labor issues. He was in support of labor and the world's poor. Just with social issues, I wish he was more open-minded.
"Honestly the next pope, and it's a longshot, I really hope the next pope is open to women's ordination and open to the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community and openness to marriage. The third thing about the pope is about the abuse scandal, being more forthcoming and transparent across the board."
Yesenia Olague, parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rancho Cucamonga, said, "I don't really know who shows up for the next. But for me I think they need to look at how everything's evolved, and they also need to evolve."
Bruner said Benedict was a pope who pushed for orthodoxy and a continuation of a historical church.
"I don't think history will as kindly as it looks on Pope John Paul II," he said.
"I think he was more progressive, traveled more, and was making changes in a world that was changing in a rapid pace. But he will go down as first pope to tweet, so you never know. I think it's a really good time for the papacy to look to the global south. It would be interesting to see a Latin American or African pope."
Jennifer Hughes, an associate professor of history at UC Riverside, said she was stunned when she heard about the announcement, calling it an "exceptional courageous" act.
Hughes, author of "Biography of a Mexican Crucifix: Lived Religion and Local Faith from the Conquest to the Present," said Benedict was extraordinary in breaking with tradition.
The last pope to actually resign was Gregory XII nearly 600 years ago.
"He has not been a modern or innovative pope and has not broken with tradition elsewhere," she said of Benedict.
"He's an enforcer of the Roman Catholic tradition. He's not someone in his years of being pope or his years before being the pope who has been an innovator or someone pushing against tradition."
She said she didn't think Southern California's issues with priests involved in child abuse had any role in Benedict's decision.
"My guess is the next pope will have more continuity with Benedict," she said. "I was quite stunned when (he) was elected pope. He is not a conciliatory figure. He is a radically conservative figure. But those who elect the next pope ... my guess is they will look for someone very slightly more conciliatory.
"We're not going to find a highly progressive pope. It will be another very conservative pope who is better able to deal what is ailing the church, what the church is struggling with.
"My sense is there is politics behind this. It's not just health-related. I think his is a legacy of undoing the church's progress in the 1960s, 1970s when the church was working to modernize and the legacy of this pope will be undoing that process. He wanted a smaller and purer church. He wanted a church more conservative, more truer in his definition. I think the legacy is precisely that. The dismantling of the modernizing project. In some ways he's brought the church back to about the 1960-1962 moment.
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