GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Catholics from around the world and right here in West Michigan honored the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Thursday.

Benedict died last Saturday at the age of 95.

Among the faithful attending the Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Grand Rapids Thursday were Jim and Barb Miller.

They came to honor the first Pope to resign in 600 years.

“He knew that he couldn’t carry on the mission of the church in the health that he was in. So I think that he did the right thing, and I think we should respect people like that and honor their memory,” Jim Miller said.

The Mass at St. Andrews came the same day as Benedict’s funeral at the Vatican.

All of the Grand Rapids Dioceses’ 80 parishes were encouraged to hold the special Mass.

Bishop David Walkowiak said it is important for all Catholics to remember Benedict and all popes. 

“We all develop a kinship with him. A familiarity with him. He is our pope. We look to him for stability. We look to him for strength. We look to him for the truth. This is what the pope means for Catholics,” the bishop told News 8.

The coffin of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is brought to St. Peter’s Square for a funeral Mass at the Vatican, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. Benedict died at 95 on Dec. 31 in the monastery on the Vatican grounds where he had spent nearly all of his decade in retirement. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Benedict was elected in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

John Paul II was a hard act to follow. 

Benedict brought a quieter approach to the papacy.

“Benedict was a figure of continuity, but a very gentle, saintly man. Kind of gave us a little bit of a rest after John Paull II,” Walkowiak said.

Physical limitation led to Benedict’s decision to resign 2015, a decision, Walkowiak said, that came after much prayer and consideration, and demonstrated to the world Benedict’s humility. 

“He was one of the most influential figures in the world. And to step back from that just shows you that he wanted the best for the church. And he realized his physical limitations that that point,” Walkowiak said. “Humility is hard to spot. But if you want to really see humility in action, just watch Benedict and listen to his words and you’ll see what it’s like. That’s something the world need today.”