Gates, N.Y. --- Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark was just as surprised as other Catholics around the world when he learned of Pope Benedict's resignation Monday morning.
Clark retired in July 2012 and while Bishop Robert Cunningham oversees the Rochester Diocese, a decision on Clark's permanent replacement must come from the Vatican.
A decision that may be delayed many months.
"My guess would be we wouldn't expect much movement at all," Clark said. "My guess is, bottom-line, if it does anything it would probably lengthen the time but that's pure speculation."
Clark left open the possibility that the Vatican might choose to appoint Bishops to vacancies this far along in the process to better position the incoming Pope.
Typically, the process to fill such vacancies takes about a year, but this may prolong that announcement for the roughly 110,000 Catholic families in the Rochester Diocese.
Pope Benedict's decision to resign is the first of its kind by a living Pope in more than six centuries. Bishop Emeritus Clark applauds it and believes it is possible that it may begin a new tradition and become part of this Pope's legacy.
"I admire very much what he's done I think it's very wise, I think it sets an extraordinarily good example," said Clark. "I think it puts the Papacy in a more understanding human framework; that the Pope, though Pope, remains a human being and has to deal with the realities of being a human being."
Clark has encountered Pope Benedict numerous times in his career, even before he was named the Pope following the death of Pope John Paul II. Clark has seen him speak to crowds at the Vatican and said many would be surprised to know that Benedict spoke to larger crowds more regularly than Paul II.
"His talks in relation to John Paul II's talks at those were in much simpler language," observed Clark. "They addressed a range of ordinary human concerns and they were put in a very cordial and inviting way."
Many will speculate for weeks who will replace Pope Benedict when the College of Cardinals gathers in Rome. Clark admits he'll follow this process closely with great interest.
"There will certainly be enormous and intense speculation that the next Holy Father may come from the Southern Hemisphere due to the fact that South America, Central and South America have the most intense populations of Catholics in the world," Clark noted while also including Africa as an equally important region in Catholicism.