They had attended the noon-time mass at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in downtown Buffalo.
People like Kathy Spina of Hamburg who says she was a bit surprised to hear the news on Monday.
"I understand his feelings, and I'm very glad and I think that he's thoughtful in his policies. I hope for the very best for him," Spina says.
The pontiff told a meeting of cardinals today that he will be resigning at the end of this month, becoming the first pope to step down in 600 years. He said the duties of being pope require "strength of mind and body," and that he simply isn't strong enough anymore.
At the same time, Miguel Marin of Niagara Falls believes the pontiff is showing a lot of leadership with this rare resignation.
"I think that he is setting an example. The modern church is complex, and we need active leaders," Marin says.
Marin believes Benedict has served Catholics well as the Pope, considering he had a "tough act to follow."
Around the world, Roman Catholics are expressing disbelief and grief over the resignation of Pope Benedict, the first papal resignation in six centuries.
Some are seeing it as a sign of crisis in the Church.
Others see it as a dramatic act of humility by a pope who found he could no longer handle his duties. Father Luis Rivero of the Archdiocese of Miami says, "There are times that only we know that we have to let go."
And many are expressing hope that a more energetic and charismatic new pope will lead the church into a new era. A parishioner outside the cathedral in the Cuban capital of Havana said, "The church must bring itself up to date with the modern world."
There are also renewed calls for a pope from the developing world. The number of believers is growing in Africa, and half the world's Catholics live in Latin America. The bishop of Fatima in Portugal, Antonio Marto, says there's a "freshness" and an "enthusiasm about living the faith" among Catholics in Africa and Latin America.
In Nigeria -- the nation with the biggest Christian population in Africa -- there are some 20 million practicing Catholics. One man there says there's already a black American president -- and now, he says, he'd like to see a black pope.