Local Pastors are expressing support for the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who will leave his post as the leader of the Catholic Church at the end of February.
“I admire [Benedict] for being able to make this decision,” Rev. Gasper Genuardi, Pastor of SS Cosmas and Damian Parish in Conshohocken, said.
The Vatican cited “advanced age” as reason for Benedict's resignation, after serving as pope for eight years.
“I think he was Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II, and he saw how tough it was for him at the end,” Genuardi said.
This is the first time in 600 years that a pope has resigned.
“Most Catholics would be shocked, as it hasn’t happened in our lifetimes—in centuries,” Rev. Msgr. Charles P. Vance, Pastor at St. Philip Neri in Lafayette Hill said.
Vance cited a grueling travel schedule of modern-day pope, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, as an issue for 85-year-old Benedict.
“We understand that the man is older and physically unable to carry out everything that the pope has to do, with the great bit of traveling,” Vance said. “They’re always on the road, I think that takes a toll on them. It’s the tough job – probably the toughest in the world.”
Rev. Joseph J. Quindlen, Pastor at Epiphany of Our Lord in Plymouth, suggested that announcing this decision Monday had a special meaning for Catholics.
“He may have chosen today because today is the memorial of our Lady of Lourdes, “ Quindlen said. “His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 1992 designated today as world day of the sick in which he called for a special time for prayer and sharing for offering one’s suffering for the good of the church.”
“It’s a historic decision, and we are grateful for the leadership that our Holy Father has given to the church since he became pope,” Quindlen said.
According to a CNN article, a new pope will be in place by Easter.