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2/21/2013 10:33:00 AM
Local Catholics weigh in

Few Catholics could have predicted Pope Benedict XVI's resignation. Many in the Albany Diocese told The Evangelist that last week's news was nothing short of astounding, though in hindsight, signs may have pointed to the possibility.

Here's a sampling of reactions and conversations taking place throughout the Diocese:

•  During his homily at Ash Wednesday Mass, school chaplain Rev. James Ebert "made some good points about how the pope did what he felt was best for everyone. The papacy has gotten a reputation for being self-serving, [but] I think it was really cool that the pope took a step back and said, 'I'm not the best person for the job.' I think this might change the way the papacy works. Our bishops are already forced to retire at a certain point, but the pope is not. It's neat to live through history in the making."-Kevin Kortright, senior, Saratoga Central Catholic High School

•  "It was like, 'Wow, what's going on?' [But] I just accepted it for what it was and figured I would learn more. I felt admiration for someone who was honest enough with themselves to say, 'I just cannot do this anymore.' I have a hunch [the next pope] might be someone of a surprising nature. I think there's an opportunity now [to] take the Church in a direction built on what the past has given us, which is tantamount to Vatican II. The pendulum has got to swing somewhere in the middle." - Deacon Joe DeLorenzo, Holy Family parish, Little Falls

•  "It was a courageous move. We were all surprised at the timing. We all have been communicating that he looks very weak. We do believe that the Spirit is guiding all of this. It's confusing to us; it's stunning to us; but we don't know what the Spirit has in mind." - Brother Edward Boyer, CSC, director of the Congregation of Holy Cross

•  "I think he did a wise thing. I'm just glad we saw him when we did [at St. Kateri Tekakwitha's canonization last fall]. He said the Mass really well and kept it going right along. People had said that he was failing and didn't seem to be as active, but there, he really seemed to have energy." - Judith Rozell, October 2012 Rome pilgrim and parishioner of St. Cecilia's, Warrensburg

•  "It was quite a surprise. I'm sure it was a difficult decision for him, and I'm certain he prayed for guidance in his decision. In his address to the world, our Holy Father said that the leader of the Church has to be strong in prayer, and also in body. Strong and faithful in prayer he is, but at 85 now, it seems that he recognizes that his body cannot do what is expected of him as leader of the Church in the modern world. How very courageous of him to admit this and to be willing to step down so that another, healthier man can take his place. We have not heard the last of him, as the Spirit will continue to use Pope Benedict XVI, in his writings and in his prayers for the Church." - Rev. Jerome Gingras, pastor, Immaculate Conception parish, Glenville, writing in the parish bulletin

•  "My first thought was about his statement on environmental refugees, [which] I remember so well teaching and using in class. My second thought was amazement, but then I thought I shouldn't be amazed. I would say there's a good bit of excitement [among students] about what the future could hold. Students hope for a unifier, a Holy Father who could unify some of the polarized factions of the Church. It will be an intriguing time to watch, partly because we're not overwhelmed by the death of a pope." - Sister Katherine Hanley, CSJ, associate dean and director, St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry, Albany

•  Students have "really had a lot of questions: 'Can you quit on God when He chooses you to do something?' It's a humbling thing to understand that maybe you can't do the job as well as you wanted to. [They've also asked] if the pope's Twitter account would stay open [and], 'How can God allow a Nazi affiliation in a pope?' [I tell them] the world wasn't as informed as it is now. I tried to bring in the concept of group mentality. They seemed satisfied with that." - Debbie McHale, teacher, Saratoga Central Catholic High School

•  "I'm peaceful about it. I'm curious, of course, because it certainly will make a big difference in the life of the Church. [It's possible the situation with Vatican reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious could change] to a more peaceful, less confrontational relationship. Speculation [on the conclave] is pretty baseless in my opinion, because how do we know? I don't think the cardinals themselves know until they get together." - Sister Martha Joyce, RSM, Convent of Mercy, Albany

•  "It's kind of nice when you see our clergy retiring. It's wonderful that he can enjoy the solitude and the peace that he's going to undoubtedly have. I'm not disappointed. I think it's probably good for the Church. I have faith and I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the consistory - that it will be free of political agenda. Our Church has survived, and it will [survive] this, too. And that's up to us - it's up to the laity. We're the ones who keep coming back." - Janet Fitzgerald, October 2012 Rome pilgrim and parishioner of St. Pius X Church, Loudonville

•  Students have asked "not so much the metaphysical stuff as the nuts and bolts, like 'What's he going to do now? Will there be two popes? Where will he live? What will his title be?' I told the kids [the choice about his title] was being driven by what his needs are at the moment. I explained to them he'll always be a priest. It's a great learning experience." - David Bromirski, teacher who dropped normal curriculum and spent two days on the papacy, St. Mary's Academy, Hoosick Falls

•  "My kids are just curious about the process: Why is it happening and has it happened before. [I told them it's like when] a grandparent retires; they don't work anymore. We've talked about how this is a big deal, that people didn't expect it. They kind of just take it in. I usually show them clips of Pope Benedict's election when we talk about conclaves. To actually be a part of it now, I think, is going to be exciting." - Amanda Patten, teacher, St. Mary's Academy, Hoosick Falls

•  "[We] are grateful to Pope Benedict XVI for his honesty, humility, courage and heartfelt consideration for the good of the Church that have led to such a decision, and we thank the pope for his 62 years of service to the Church as priest, bishop, teacher, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and pope. We pray that God will richly bless Pope Benedict XVI for his total gift of self to the Gospel of Jesus and to the people of God. Together with cardinals worldwide, we pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire and enlighten the College of Cardinals' meeting in conclave to choose a worthy successor as our 266th pope." - Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province

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