The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 11, 2013

Local reaction to pope's decision to resign varies

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Reaction among local Catholics was mostly one of concern for Pope Benedict XVI, who announced Monday he is resigning due to health reasons.

He will leave the position Feb. 28.

“I admire him for it,” said Sharon Trojan. “If he feels that is what God wants him to do, I admire him for that.”

Trojan said she cannot imagine the time, energy and physical and emotional trauma the pope must have.

The Rev. Joseph Irwin, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, said when the news came out he received some calls from parishioners.

“It’s early to get a sense of the whole Catholic church. The decision was made freely because of concerns of his advanced age and deteriorating health,” Irwin said.

The pope recognizes the importance of his ministry, and the church can’t afford a pope who can’t function because of health or of other reasons, Irwin said.

“My reaction as a Catholic is that I’m happy he’s making a decision based on the good of the church,” Irwin said.

People have asked Irwin if the pope can do that, and his answer is, yes, it is part of canonic law. The pope cannot be forced out, but can freely make the decision, Irwin said.

The position will be given to someone elected by the College of Cardinals who has the health and stamina needed.

“He has health issues that won’t serve the church well. If he is incapacitated by physical or mental capabilities — the kinds of things that happen to us when we get older — he needs to resign and give it to someone who can do that,” Irwin said.

Trojan said Benedict XVI has been a good pope and has made some major changes in the church that she likes, such as the change in language in services.

“He’s been good about standing up and talking about the Catholic faith and that morals don’t change,” Trojan said.

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, issued a statement Monday on Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement.

“The news has caught us all by surprise. It is the first time in modern history that we have had a papal resignation,” Coakley said in the prepared statement.

“This wise and gentle shepherd proved to be a very different kind of man than many had expected. He has led the Catholic church through very challenging times and with great wisdom and charity,” Coakley said.

The Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in the world with more than one billion members worldwide. Benedict was elected by a papal conclave in 2005.

“I pray for him and for the leadership that God leads us,” Trojan said.