Pope's resignation sparks discussion among Catholics

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by ELLEN BECKER, Managing Editor—
EllensmallerThe stir of discussion continues after Pope Benedict XVI shocked more than 1 billion Catholics by resigning Monday, becoming the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years.
The 85-year-old said he will resign at the end of February because he no longer has the strength to fulfill the duties of his office.
Father Joe Miller of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Warrensburg said he wasn’t really surprised by Benedict’s resignation.
“He has been in failing health for some time,” Miller said. “I have to trust that the Holy Spirit was involved. I’m sure he discerned God’s will and had much prayer before announcing it.”
UCM freshman Emily Ryan said she thought the pope’s decision to resign was shocking.
“I was a little disappointed in him,” she said. “But after I read more about it, I think it was a good decision, since his health is bad. If he can’t fulfill his duties, someone else can.”
Michael McCormick, director of Catholic Campus Ministries at UCM, said he was a little sad when he heard Benedict was stepping down.
“He was a good pope,” he said. “I’m a convert, and I came in when he was first elected.”
It has been said that his retirement is essentially overriding God’s will.
“I thought that at first,” Ryan said. “But then I thought, maybe it’s God’s will for him to resign. Maybe God wants someone who can better fulfill the position.”
Miller had similar views. “My guess is he feels that this is God’s will,” Miller said. “I’m sure he didn’t come to his decision lightly. If he didn’t think it was God’s will, I think he would have stayed in.”
McCormick said he doesn’t think it’s overriding God’s will at all.
“That’s a silly thing to say,” he said. “He’s a very prayerful man; I’m sure he’s been through a process to come to this conclusion.”
McCormick added that although Benedict has been a great leader, it will be exciting to find a new pope.
It has been mentioned that the cardinals may be looking for a younger man to fill the position. Ryan said she likes that idea.
“A younger pope would be more active and could reach out to the younger generation,” she said.
McCormick said he also thinks a younger pope may be good for the Catholic Church.
“We’re coming into a technological age, and I think we need to look at where the Church is, and where it needs to go,” he said. “But you never know what the cardinals will come out with.”
Miller said he believes that prayer will help the search for a new pope.
“I trust that (the cardinals) will be really open to the Holy Spirit directing their hearts,” he said. “The whole Church is praying for guidance.”
As for what he’ll remember most about Pope Benedict XVI, McCormick said, “he is a very smart man; probably the most intellectual pope we’ve ever had.”
“I’ll remember his openness,” Miller added. “He is very knowledgeable, and had lots of wisdom to share.”
The College of Cardinals will soon meet at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel to search for a new pope.
The cardinals communicate to the outside world by burning ballots — black smoke from the chimney means a vote was inconclusive; white smoke announces a new pope.