Near a giant statue of Pope John Paul II at the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City, visitors greeted the news about Pope Benedict XVI's resignation with a mix of surprise, sadness -- and guilt. They admitted that they never really embraced the current pope the way they had Pope John Paul II. "We still carry the memory of Pope John Paul within us, so we hold some of the blame too," said Jose Antonio Aburto Zapata, a pilgrim from Veracruz, Mexico.
Millions come to Mexico City from all over the world, many walking for days or crawling in on their knees, to pay respect and ask for blessings from the Virgin of Guadalupe. They come to see the iconic image of the Virgin that many believe miraculously appeared on the cloak of farmer Juan Diego back in 1531. It now sits behind bulletproof glass in front of four rows of moving walkways inside the Basilica.
But as the news broke from the Vatican, many pilgrims were distracted from their journey and considered the future of the church. They were hoping that a new pope would bring a sense of renewal and strength to their Roman Catholic faith. And if he happened to be from Latin America, all the better. Maria Elena Villalobos, a Mexican woman visiting from San Diego said, "We would be so proud to have a Latin American for a pope."