Local faith leaders praise pontiff’s intellect, honesty and Christian witness
By Jean Torkelson
Local faith leaders gave their reaction to the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation to the Denver Catholic Register Feb. 11.
The Very Rev. Peter Eaton, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral
“Pope Benedict XVI is the most considerable intellect to occupy the office of bishop of Rome for a thousand years. We will never see his like again. I am impressed how much he has done so far into his 80’s. He has been a teacher and a scholar, in a demanding public role.”
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, executive editor Intermountain Jewish News
“It is surprising news but also elicited in me an admiration for his honesty. From a Jewish perspective, he didn’t have the charisma and panache of his predecessor but he was very good at sustaining (John Paul II’s) work: He visited Israel; he recognized the state of Israel; he renounced genocide, he renounced blame of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus … despite (problems between us) I think the widespread feeling is, when we call Catholic representatives on a Jewish matter, they get it.”
The Rev. Canaan Harris, senior pastor, Central Christian Church in Denver, 8th oldest Church in Colorado (Disciples of Christ)
“Pope Benedict has been a significant witness to the truth of the Gospel. He served in a very difficult time. I am so grateful for the Roman Catholic Church and its consistent witness throughout these generations. Frankly, it is a shining light to all of us.”
Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
“Pope Benedict XVI has been a wonderful friend to our holy ecumenical partriarchate of Constaninople, and to Orthodoxy in general. And my prayer is that the good relations that have existed, and which he helped to develop, will continue to grow, and that the new Holy Father will continue the truly spiritual and progressive spiritual ministry of his predecessor.”
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly of Colorado Springs
“Regardless of your faith allegiance or perspective, it is a remarkable and teachable moment to see a worldwide leader humbly cede his position and his power. Blaise Pascal put it well: ‘We must learn our limits. We are all something, but none of us are everything.’”
FAQ: Who’ll be in charge when the pope resigns?
By Jean Torkelson
Sources include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, News.VA (the Vatican Today website), Greg Willits, director for Faith Formation and Family Life Ministries for the Denver Archdiocese, and Stephen Garbitelli of the Metropolitan Tribunal in Denver.
Q: I thought the pope kept his office until death. Did that change?
A: A: Canon Law recognizes the Roman Pontiff’s ability to resign. Pope Benedict XVI has given his resignation freely, in accordance with the second paragraph of Canon 332 of the Code of Canon Law, which requires that his action must be done freely out of his own will and “properly manifested.” No other Church body needs to give permission or accept his resignation for it to take effect.
Q: When does the pope’s resignation take effect?
A: Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. Rome time (noon, Denver time).
Q: Who’s in charge during the vacancy? (The sede vacante, “empty chair,” period.)
A: The government of the Church is entrusted to the College of Cardinals solely for the dispatch of ordinary business and matters that cannot be postponed. However, nothing new (nil innovatur) can be undertaken until a new pope is elected.
Q: Have popes resigned before this?
A: In 1294, Father Pietro Angelerio, 80, became Pope Celestine V, and five months later, issued a formal decree allowing popes to resign, which he did. The next pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, who voluntarily stepped down to end a Church schism.
Q: Who is eligible to vote for the next pope?
A: Under current ecclesiastical law all cardinals under the age of 80 are eligible to vote. The current cardinal electors are: 61 Europeans, 19 Latin Americans, 14 North Americans, 11 Africans, 11 Asians, and 1 from Oceania.
Q: Which cardinals from the United States will vote?
A: Raymond Burke (head of the Apostolic Signature), Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Timothy Dolan of New York, Francis E. George of Chicago, James M. Harvey (archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls), William Levada (retired prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), Roger M. Mahony (retired archbishop of Los Angeles), Edwin O’Brien (grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre), Sean O’Malley of Boston, Justin F. Rigali (retired archbishop of Philadelphia), and Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.
Q: Does Pope Benedict have a role in the next election?
A: He will not take part in the conclave for the election of his successor.
Q: What are Pope Benedict’s immediate plans after resignation?
A: He will move to the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo. When renovation work on the monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is complete, the Holy Father will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.
Q: What will Pope Benedict XVI do after he retires?
A: He has stated his intention to devote himself to a life of prayer and reflection. Canon law makes no provision whatsoever for the protocols and prerogatives of a retired pope. Therefore, Pope Benedict will set his own precedents.