MARKTL, Germany -- "We are Pope!" declared the German daily 'Bild' proudly and boldly on its front page after Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. Now, the dream of a German pope is over. Soon it could be "We were Pope!"
The sudden news of the Pope's resignation shocked his native Germany. Radio stations reported that some at first thought the announcement was a bad carnival joke.
"I was shocked, because it came as a real surprise for, I think, everyone, as there were no signs of a resignation," said Josef Kaiser, a local Catholic priest in the Pope's birthplace, Marktl. Benedict was born Joseph Ratzinger in this Bavarian hamlet in 1927.
After his election, thousands descended on the village in southeastern Germany and his family's former home was turned into a museum. In the ensuing years, 200,000 visitors came to Marktl. On Monday, the evening of his resignation announcement, crowds of mostly journalists and photographers surrounded the pope's birthplace -- the bright lights of television crews lighting up the building possibly for the last time.
"Marktl changed, because this was a very sleepy, small village of about two and a half thousand inhabitants and suddenly through the pope's election, it became the center of media attention," Kaiser said.
"It's quite sad that he already resigned," said Marktl's mayor, Hubert Gschwendtner.
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