King’s Catholics react to Pope's resignation
Financial District, NEW YORK--Along with the rest of the world, many students at the King’s College were shocked to learn of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Feb. 10, especially those who identify as Roman Catholic. As a minority at a largely Protestant school, Catholics have less representation for their opinions. But many were ready to vocalize their thoughts when they heard that the leader of their faith stepped down.
“It’s a shame he decided to resign,” Chris Hanson (’15) said. “He was a strong conservative voice within the Church.” Many others agreed, saying they were surprised, sad or even disappointed. This disappointment, however, did not lead the students to disagree with the decision, except for Gabe Medina (’16), who particularly thought that the Pope should serve for life.
Originally named Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, the German Cardinal succeeded Pope John Paul II after his death in 2005 as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. However, unlike his predecessors who served as Pope until the grave, the Holy Father decided that in his old age and current health, he could not carry out the services as Shepherd of the Church. The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, making Benedict the first Pope to resign in 598 years.
Although sharing the surprise, Catherine Dombrowski (’14) called the Benedict’s decision “honorable and noble” proving that “he was being a leader, even in resigning.”
Both Catherine Allen (’13) and Burk Ohbayashi (’12) agreed, saying that his decision was honorable and sets a precedent for future Popes to resign if their bodies begin to fail. They stated that the Pope must be in functioning health to fulfill his roles.
The Pope is not just a spiritual mentor or example to the millions of Catholics worldwide. Besides leading the church, the Pope must meet constantly with ambassadors of other countries, travel to other lands to give wisdom and assistance, spread good relations with leaders of other religions and much more. He is far more than a figure head, he is a man of global power and influence.
Every Catholic interviewed at King’s expressed a deep devotion to their Pope.
“He is our leader, but it’s more than that. He is our father in the faith, hence why we call him Pope, which means father,” Spencer Kashmanian (’16) said.
Most of the students said that they even felt the impact of Papal decisions in their church, whether it be the order of the Mass or different readings and prayers that Benedict directly called for. Not only did they feel his choices in their churches, but also in their own lives.
“Benedict prays constantly for the church, which includes all followers, so he does play an impacting role in our lives,” said Charlie Freeman (’15).
Benedict’s resignation brought not only disappointment and respect but also curiosity. The question of who will sit in the seat of Peter now looms in the thoughts of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Some King’s Catholics predicted Benedict’s successor to be European, following the way it has been for hundreds of years. Yet some say there is a good chance the next Pope could be African, leading to the first black Pope. Others still wish him to be American.