Catholics around Western New York on Monday praised Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down before becoming too frail or incapacitated to lead the church.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Susan Stievater, an Amherst Catholic. “He hinted at it a while back.”

Michael Godzala of Cheektowaga was surprised by the announcement.

“I’ve never heard of a pope resigning,” said Godzala, following a morning Mass in St. Gabriel Church in Elma.

But Godzala said the pope should do what his conscience tells him is best for the church.

“I don’t know what the circumstances are,” he said. “If he steps down and says, 'You know I’d rather have a younger, more enthusiastic person take over' and he gives his blessing ... If that’s what he feels is in his heart, what can I say?”