Pope Benedict XVI to Resign: DC Catholics React
Catholic Church head is first Pope to step down in 600 years. What's your reaction and where does the church go from here?
Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday that he will step down from his position Feb. 28, citing failing strength of “mind and body."
He will be the first pontiff to resign since 1415, the Washington Post reports.
"I hope that this is a sign that Pope Benedict XVI is setting a precedent (i.e. resigning due to 'an advanced age'), especially after watching his friend and predecessor, Pope John Paul II, suffer through the final debilitating years of his papacy," DC resident Tyler Savoy commented on the Georgetown Patch Facebook page.
In his announcement the Pope said:
"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," the Pope said in a statement.
"I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
Pope Benedict, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now 85, was selected in April 2005 after the death of the very popular and charismatic Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict was 78 at the time - the oldest person in more than 200 years chosen to head the church.
"I would love to see a non-white pope from either Africa or Latin America, where the Church is growing... . Whatever the outcome, it will be fascinating to see who emerges on the balcony after we see the white smoke," Savoy commented.
Benedict's reign has been distracted by clerical abuse scandals and Vatican internal struggles.
"My reaction is that the pope is a human being first, church leader second. Whether the real reasons for his resignation are personal - health or based on scandal, it is his right to do so. That will not make me leave the Catholic Church," Amanda Socci, a practicing Catholic in Alexandria, Va., commented on the Georgetown Patch Facebook page.
What's your reaction to the news? What should the Cardinals look for in the next Pope? Will we see the first non-European pontiff? How will the change affect Catholics around the world and right in your Georgetown church? Tell us in the comments below.