Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Different views on pope's resignation

by John Halverson

February 14, 2013

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was the biggest news of the week.

Local priests Jim Schuerman and Angel Anaya of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Lake Geneva, felt there was wisdom and humility in his resignation, the first by a sitting Pope in 600 years.

“I was surprised by the timing,” Schuerman said, noting its proximity to Lent. “(But) I do remember an interview or talk where he had mentioned when a pope is either physically or mentally declining that he would have the right to reign or the responsibility to resign.”

Schuerman said parishioners seem most interested in the process of selecting a new pope.

Will the next pope be European or is there a possibility he will come from elsewhere?

“An article I read said that 42 percent of the world’s Catholics are from Latin America and maybe that makes sense,” Schuerman said.

As for the precedence of resigning instead of dying in office, he said:

“It shows a lot of humility to resign from that kind of leadership position. So it sets a very good example. I do think that people will receive it positively.”

Anaya agreed.

“He’s a holy man and a humble man,” Anaya said. “His level of energy, according to himself, was not up to the challenge of leading the Catholic Church. In front of God and in the eyes of the challenges he was facing, he felt someone else was needed with more energy and younger than him.”

Here’s what media across the world is saying about the news of the pope’s resignation:

The National Catholic Reporter

“It’s still not entirely clear exactly when Benedict made a firm decision to resign and thus how long the Vatican managed to keep it under wraps.

“The editor of the Vatican newspaper wrote Monday that Benedict decided to step down almost a year ago after a grueling six-day trip to Mexico and Cuba last March.”


“Just a few weeks ago, the pope nodded to modernity by adopting a Twitter handle (@pontifex). He now has 1.5 million followers.

“Benedict’s decision to step down offers the College of Cardinals an unusual opportunity to plan ahead for the succession and approach the upcoming conclave with a clearer vision of what papal attributes would best serve the church’s worldwide population.”

Jennifer Rubin

Washington Post blogger

“Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down triggered a plethora of commentary by liberal media types who proceeded to lecture the Catholic Church about the need, you know, to get with the modern world and stop all that fussing about abortion, contraception and women priests.

“This is bizarre. On what basis do secular journalists assert the authority to lecture a religion on its tenets? Imagine instructing rabbis to lighten up on the Ten Commandments or evangelicals to stop being so, you know, literal.”

Timmian Massie

Adjunct professor at Marist College

“Who will be Benedict’s successor? Italian cardinals hope it will be one of their own, as it has been nearly 35 years since an Italian was Bishop of Rome. The election of Polish-born Karol Wotyla in 1978 followed 455 years of Italian popes. Developing nations hope one of their cardinals will be selected …

“The scandals have taken their toll on church attendance in Europe and the U.S. For example, the pews are nearly empty in Ireland, a country where the Catholic Church was the power behind the throne for centuries, but where sexual and physical abuse scandals have led to a new schism ...

“Could a First World prelate still be elected? Of course, though it will in all likelihood not be an American, despite U.S. media hyping New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The Rev. Peter Daly

“Perhaps the most important legacy of Benedict XVI’s papacy will be his resignation. It has set a very healthy precedent. In an age when medical science can keep us living well into our 90s and maybe even past 100, it is important that popes should feel free to resign when they are no longer up to the task of their ministry. Pope Benedict showed true pastoral concern for the church...As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he lived through the final years of John Paul II’s papacy. He saw his friend decline, and he knew the church was drifting for the last few years of that long reign. Yet John Paul II felt bound by tradition to carry on until the end. Benedict XVI has freed future popes of that burden and perhaps freed the church from a major problem of having a senile or incapacitated pope. He deserves our thanks for this precedent.

The Benedictines have a saying about the selection of a new abbot: The abbot should be ne sanus, ne sapiens, et ne sanctus — not too healthy, not too wise and not too holy. In other words, they should select a regular guy. That’s what I hope for: a regular guy.”

Daly is a priest at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.