Making history, Pope resigns, first in 600 years

The world awoke Monday morning, February 11, to the historic announcement that Pope Benedict XVI would be resigning on February 28, a surprise to many Catholics.

In a statement, the pope said, ”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.”

“I was so sad, my heart broke,” said Marion Goddard of the news. The Bay Ridge Catholic believes this event, the resignation of a pope, which hasn’t taken place since 1415, is “truly unprecedented.

“I love him,” she continued. “He was such a spiritual holy man. He’s our guide, our spiritual leader.”

“He’s getting older,” said Brooklynite Dorris Perri. “He doesn’t look too good and has to take care of himself.”

Carmelina Maida-Meza agreed.  “If he doesn’t feel up to it…it’s a personal decision that he has to make,” she said.

But not everyone agreed with Pope Benedict’s decision. Liz Kittel, who calls herself cynical, thinks his job is one of many to “not give up.

“I’m a nurse—you stay until the end,” Kittel exclaimed, also adding that she thinks, “It’s strange” that he would have taken the step.

Local politicians also reacted to the announcement. “While I was sad to learn of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation,” said Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, “I believe he made a selfless and courageous decision in acknowledging that his age and health were hindering his ability to serve.”

Republican Congressmember Michael Grimm said that, like many Catholics throughout the world, he was surprised to hear of the news. “For seven years, he served honorably as our holy pontiff, seeking to reawaken Christianity throughout the world.

“One sign of a great leader is knowing when to step down,” he added.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio recalled Pope Benedict’s visit to New York a few years ago. “Remember with me Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to the United States and our City in April of 2008. Following on the heels of a scandal that was a fresh wound for our Church, Catholics throughout our nation were consumed by great pain. So as he made his way upon Shepherd One, he made it clear that he intended to embark on a journey of healing.”

Of the pope’s announcement, DiMarzio added, “In the humble opinion of this spectator, the Lord will respond, ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’”

President Obama also issued a statement on the pope’s decision.

“On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,” he said. “The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.”

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