Pope's Resignation: 'Courageous'
Four East Providence priests react to Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he is resigning from the papacy.
Four of East Providence’s Catholic priests were definitely surprised by Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement on Monday that he was resigning the papacy because of his age and his health.
Two of the priests also described Pope Benedict as the right man for his time.
“It was certainly surprising,” said Father David Green at St. Martha’s parish in Kent Heights. “Not shocking, perhaps, but surprising, and courageous, really. I think it was a wise move. His health was declining.”
Monsignor William McCaffrey at St. Margaret parish in Rumford also described Pope Benedict's resignation announcement as “courageous” even though many priests viewed him as “an interim” Pope because of his age. He ascended to the papacy eight years ago at age 77.
Father John Codega at St. Brendan’s parish in Riverside was one of the priests who described Pope Benedict as “a pontiff for the right time” and “an interim” Pope who filled the position with “great dignity.”
Father Peter DiTullo of Sacred Heart parish in center city said he would always “appreciate his papacy. I was very pleased with him.”
Neither of the local priests would venture a guess as to who would succeed Pope Benedict. But there was general agreement that his predecessor needs to be someone who can take the church into a future with solid faith and a strong voice in a society that has grown more and more secular.
“This is a very difficult time for the church,” said Father Codega. “There are complex circumstances.”
Monsignor McCaffrey said he anticipates the next Pope will be stronger, younger and healthier and, perhaps, with a background better suited to deal with the “international needs of local churches.”
“These are challenging times,” the Monsignor added. “Our culture is changing. We need someone who can keep the roots strong.”
Pope Benedict’s age and his health made it very difficult, he said, to travel and to manage a massive bureaucracy. But the Monsignor described him as a “great intellectual and communicator” who wrote well.
Father Green said he sees the next Pope as having a “definite vision for the church” but with a conservative theological doctrine similar to Pope Benedict’s.
Father Codega said he envisions a Pope guided by the Holy Spirit.
“I don’t know if there is a particular direction for the church,” he said. “I would ask: Where does God want us to go?”
Choosing a new Pope is always filled with unknowns and Father DiTullo said: “I don’t know what we’ll get.”
See a story in the New York Times on who might replace Pope Benedict.