WESTON, Conn. – The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI caught area priests by surprise, but they support the move.
“When I heard about I was shocked,” said the Rev. Joseph Cervero at St. Patrick Parish in Redding. “But then I read his address to the cardinals and I give him a lot of credit. It shows his humanity and humility. He realized he’s not capable and he’s thinking of the church, not himself.”
The Rev. Michael Dunn, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Weston, said, “Although it’s unusual, it’s pretty straight forward, since he has serious health issues. There are concerns about his being able to carry on his duties. It’s a very stressful and overwhelming job that requires good health for travel.”
Cervero said the Pope's legacy will be in his writings. He “wrote a lot about Jesus and the church and how Jesus has mercy on us. His focus was to direct us to love Jesus.”
Dunn said it was difficult for Pope Benedict to come on the heels of Pope John Paul II, who did so much for the church. “He lived in the shadow of John Paul, but he traveled a lot when he was healthy and reached out to many countries and young people. There was a personal side and warmth to him that many didn’t think he had.”
Dunn said that, while he has issues with the way the church has handled sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests, he believes the Pope should not be tarnished by the scandal.
“Leaders of the church handled it poorly and covered it up, but it didn’t have anything to do with the pope. It happened at certain dioceses and with priests who don’t have any contact with the pope.”
Dunn said it is hard to tell what direction the church will take next.
“It’s always a surprise. People talk about many candidates, but sometimes it’s someone no one has spoken about.”
Cervero agreed. “It could be old school or modernist. It’s in God’s hands as the church always is anyway.”