Just a few days after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, local clergy members say they are surprised but also uplifted, as they view his actions as “generous” and “humble.”
On Monday morning, Pope Benedict informed a group of Vatican cardinals that he feels he must step down due to his declining “strength of mind and body.”
“I think it’s a very generous and wise move on his part to recognize his limitations, and to step aside for the good of the church,” said Rev. Fr. Richard M. Friedrichs of St. Catherine’s Church at 3252 Post Road. “He certainly had a great dedication to the church, and he has put to use a great deal of theological knowledge. He has a great love and dedication to the church that highlights the wisdom and teachings of the church, and tried to make them well known around the modern world today.”
Rev. Fr. Edward J. Wilson Jr., pastor of Sts. Rose and Clement, feels the same. He, too, was stunned when he heard the news.
“I was surprised because he’s doing such wonderful work as the leader of the Catholic Church,” Fr. Wilson said. “But when you stop and think about it, you realize it’s an amazing example of humility because here he is at the height of his power and influence as the leader of a billion Catholics in the whole world and he says honestly, ‘I’m just not strong enough to do this and I need to step aside and let someone stronger and healthier lead the Catholic Church.’ And it’s a time when we need it.”
The Pope, a German theologian who will soon turn 86 years old, will not get a vote as to who his replacement will be. However, he has selected a majority of the members of the College of Cardinals, a group of men who will elect his successor. Possible candidates include New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as well as Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Avis.
For Fr. Wilson, Pope Benedict reaffirmed the need for selfless love, the church’s belief in helping and supporting all relationships, and the need for forgiveness and growth across the globe.