It was with this announcement that
Father Ken Doyle began Monday morning's mass at Mater Christi, and dozens of
parishioners gathering for worship reflected on the news.
"It was a surprise. I think
this is the first time in modern history that a pope resigned," said
The Catholic Church hasn't seen such
sudden change since 1415 when Pope
Gregory the VII stepped down, yet with his health in question,
the decision is one that is widely accepted -- at least at Mater Christi.
"I think it's only tradition
that pope's stay on until death as far as I know. If the pope does not have the
energy and drive to run the church worldwide, it's probably the thing to
do," said Father Doyle.
Father Doyle never expected the
historic move, the pastor has worked with the pope during his visit to the
capital Region, but he says the more he thinks about it, the more he feels this
is actually characteristic of the 85-year old pontiff.
"He said if he ever in
conscience reached a point where he felt his health compromised his
responsibilities, he would resign," said Father Doyle.
Albany Roman Catholic
Diocese Bishop Howard Hubbard says he was shocked by the news pope
Benedict the XVI is stepping down, but he's not surprised that it's due to
the pontiff's failing health. The pope was 78-years old when elected 8 years
"There was some question about
someone of that age assuming the awesome responsibilities of the papacy,"
said Hubbard. "If he feels he can't do a job that he's assigned to do,
then the next best thing is for him to step down."
People out and about Monday largely
agreed that although a pope retiring from his post is an extremely rare move,
it's understandable that Benedict wouldn't want to lead the Catholic Church in
can see that his health has declined, especially within the last two years. I
was in Rome this past October and I was struck by how more frail he was than
the year before," said Hubbard.
The Vatican stresses that no
specific medical condition prompted the 85-year old pope's decision. He was
completely lucid and made the choice independently.
That resignation comes on February 28,
and quite a few people are also reacting to the timing of the resignation.
Lent begins on Wednesday, one of the
holiest times for the Catholic Church, and many parishioners voiced their
thoughts on that as well.
Father Doyle says he is confident,
however, that the church will have a new pope named by Easter which this year
will be celebrated on March 31.
That vote will take place in a
conclave -- or a private meeting amongst cardinals.
But what happens to the pope after he officially steps down?
He will live a solitary life, devoted to prayer. The Vatican said immediately after his resignation,
Benedict will live at Castel Gandolfo, a
cloistered monastery south
And that means the leader of Catholics all over the world
will live out the remainder of his life, closed off to the outside world.
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