In the early morning of February 11, Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement shocked the Vatican and the world. During a meeting with the College of Cardinals in Rome, he announced his resignation to the papacy with the reason that because of his declining physical and mental health, he feels he is not capable of leading the Church.
Reactions have exploded at the news of this event. The last time a Pope resigned occurred over 600 years ago.
Many people have applauded his decision to put the Catholic Church first and give up his papacy. They believe Pope Benedict XVI must have sensed his declining health and felt that the Catholic Church deserved a healthy and strong leader.
It comes as no surprise, however, that some Catholics are taking the news with some difficulty. The most conservative of them believe his unexpected resignation will bring uncertainty to the Church hierarchy. Will Pope Benedict XVI continue with any of his missions for changes in the Church?
Even Bruce Schneier of CNN got into the action with his February 21st report “How secure is the Papal election?” Schneier’s conclusion? “When an election process is left to develop over the course of a couple of thousand years, you end up with something surprisingly good.”
The Most Reverend Robert Lynch, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, understands the reasons for Pope Benedict’s resignation. ” I have had the unique privilege in my own priestly life to come to know Josef Ratzinger well, and when he said shortly after his election as our Pope that he would resign if his health ever would not permit him to fulfill his responsibilities as he saw fit, I believed him.”
“His own succession followed, as all will remember, a long period of serious illness of Blessed John Paul II during which the world watched a once formidable figure who survived an assassination attempt die slowly, painfully but as an example for us all. Pope Benedict watched that chapter of the Church’s history and from the beginning did not wish its repeat. So he has done what he said he would do and once again demonstrates his love and zeal for the Church.”
Bishop Lynch is happy that Pope Benedict will have time “to spend the rest of his days on earth at peace in prayer and study. And I shall always thank him for his love of the Church…I ask the Catholic faithful of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to especially pray for Pope Benedict between now and February 28, 2013, and only then begin our prayers to the Holy Spirit for our new Holy Father, whomever he might be. ”