Locals react to pope’s retirementWith Pope Benedict XVI announcing his retirement Monday, the Rev. Al Bitz, pastor of St. James Basilica in Jamestown, said he hopes Benedict’s replacement is a “pastoral pope.”
By: By Chris Olson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
With Pope Benedict XVI announcing his retirement Monday, the Rev. Al Bitz, pastor of St. James Basilica in Jamestown, said he hopes Benedict’s replacement is a “pastoral pope.”
The pope will retire on Feb. 28. He made his announcement Monday in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals. The 85-year-old pontiff said he lacks the physical strength to do the job anymore.
Benedict is the first pope to step down as head of the Roman Catholic Church since Pope Gregory XII did so in 1451, the Associated Press reported.
Bitz said he has no real preference for where the new pope comes from, only that he be “pastoral.”
“A pope who understands the underlying pressure of people that form our community,” Bitz said. “To be compassionate and understanding and to lead our church.”
He cited Pope John XXIII as a pastoral pope.
“Everyone saw, no matter what church they came from, they saw him as their pope,” Bitz said.
Bitz first heard the news at 6:30 a.m. Monday.
“That is when my clock radio came on,” he said.
He was not surprised to hear of the pope’s resignation.
“He did an interview two years ago about the possibility of a pope retiring,” he said.
Bitz said he thought Benedict was asked by Pope John Paul II to research the subject toward the end of his tenure.
“He did all the research, so he knew it was possible,” he said.
With Benedict stepping down on Feb. 28, the Vatican will convene the College of Cardinals soon after. The college is the group that selects a new pope. Vatican officials are hopeful a new pope could be chosen before Easter, which is March 31.
The Rev. David Kagan, bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck, said in a prepared statement that he was “not just surprised, but saddened,” by Benedict’s announcement. Kagan is the apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Fargo and speaks for that diocese as well.
“Since Pope Benedict XVI is the one who appointed me to be a bishop of the church, I’m saddened this has taken place,” he said. “But, it gives all of us a great sense of peace and hope that ultimately it is almighty God, the Holy Spirit, who inspires and guides all of us, beginning with the holy father.”
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com