MN Catholics express sadness, thanks

| Susan Klemond | February 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Early Monday morning, Marcelle Diedrich was half asleep when she heard the news on her radio that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month.

“It was quite a surprise,” said Diedrich, a parishioner at St. Joseph in West St. Paul. “It woke me up because it was so unexpected.”

Diedrich wasn’t the only one taken aback by the flood of media reports announcing the pope’s retirement. Archdiocesan Catholics who heard the news as they started the day reacted with both admiration and sadness. In considering the Holy Father’s nearly eight-year pontificate, they also noted his life’s legacy of service and scholarship, while looking to the Church’s future.

The 85-year-old pontiff announced his resignation in a statement, saying, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Humility evident

When Thomas Loome, a parishioner at St. Michael in Stillwater, heard the news, he said he was filled with admiration because what the pope did was extraordinary and in the interest of the Church.

“There is virtually no tradition for a pope resigning, and I myself am delighted that he has set a precedent for modern times,” said Loome, retired theologian and founder of Loome Theological Booksellers in Stillwater. “I think that Benedict will go down in history as having served the Church faithfully, but never more so than when he resigned.”

The Holy Father’s humility is evident in his decision to resign, said Ron Snyder, a member of Our Lady of Grace in Edina.

“He entered very humbly and even said that he was a little taken aback when he was pronounced pope,” he said. “Now, he humbly steps aside. I just think it’s consistent with his personality, a very gentle, tender person.”

Colleen D’Andrea, a student mission leader with St. Paul’s Outreach who attends St. Mark in St. Paul, agreed that the decision showed the Holy Father’s humility.

“I think that it is a really sad thing,” she said. “Pope Benedict has been an incredible asset to the Church at this time. It’s incredible his humility to recognize where he is and wanting to protect the Church.”

Deacon Spencer Howe, who is completing studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome before being ordained this spring, said he has learned much from Pope Benedict.

“It is so evident that he has carried the whole Church and world in his heart during his pontificate and thereby shown the world what it is to intercede for those who are in need,” Deacon Howe said.

Joseph Kuharski, also a student at PNAC, said he didn’t realize the pope had resigned until he later heard a retired U.S. cardinal speaking about the Holy Father’s replacement. Noting that the Holy Father has been “a true spiritual father” to him, he said in many ways the pope embodies the type of priest he wants to be — “firm, yet gentle, prudent, yet bold, wise, yet aflame with pastoral charity.”

Kuharski also cited the pope’s importance in his theological studies. “I truly believe that he was one of the greatest theologians of our era and that his thought has helped bring about a great renewal of theology, especially in the liturgy and in biblical theology,” he said.

The pope faced significant challenges during his papacy and came out with statements about relativism, pluralism and secularism, said Snyder, who studied the Holy Father’s work in graduate school at the University of St. Thomas.

“I think he will go down as one who looked very keenly at society and took on the drift of a secular culture,” he said.

Said Roz Garner, a parishioner at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis: “I think this is a wake-up call for all Catholics. As Catholics we need to obey what the pope said. This is the Year of Faith. We need to know our faith. We need to learn it. We need to share it. We need to teach it from the rooftops, the rafters, every square corner.”

Strong legacy

At the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, the impact of the pope’s decision is being felt, according to Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the seminary.

But, the pontiff’s legacy will go on.

“He’s a great example to us all to recognize and give the best we can to the Lord in the work we do,” Msgr. Callaghan said. “Now he realizes what he can do best is live a life of prayer and contemplation as the best way to serve.”

Deacon Howe said his years in Rome have strengthened his gratitude for the Holy Father:

“Ours is a faith of spiritual childlikeness and I have seen in [Pope Benedict] something of what [English writer] GK Chesterton observed about the Church as a whole, that as the world grows tired and old, the Church grows ever younger and more vital in faith.”

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Category: Pope Benedict Bids Farewell