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West Michigan Catholics react to news of Pope's resignation
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Catholics around the world are wondering who will become the next pope after Pope Benedict the 16th made a surprise announcement Monday morning.
The 85-year-old pontiff says he will resign at the end of February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years. The pope says he no longer has the strength to do the job.
“It’s like watching your own dad get old and admit that he’s not up for all the duties being the head of the family involves,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
Pope Benedict became the head of the Catholic Church in 2005, succeeding Pope John Paul the Second. The Vatican says it hopes to have a new pope named in time for Easter.
Newschannel 3 spoke to Catholics in West Michigan for their take on the momentous announcement.
This is a historic moment for the church. A conclave will now gather at the Vatican to replace the living pope. There are several contenders, but no clear front runner.
Pope Benedict appointed more than half of the cardinals who will choose his successor. Pope Benedict says he will go to a papal summer retreat after his resignation. Then he will move to a monastery where he will dedicate the remainder of his life to prayer.
Contenders to be his successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s Office for Bishops.
When the news of the pope’s resignation broke early Monday morning, no one was expecting it, but those at the Diocese of Kalamazoo say they understand the move.
“I would say if he thought it was a good idea, I think it’s a good idea,” said Bishop Paul Bradley.
“While it’s surprising, I’m sure that he’s doing what he feels is the right thing to do,” said Vicki Cessna.
Bishop Bradley met with Pope Benedict in 2012, he says that meeting was the first time he noticed a change.
“I actually left that meeting a little concerned because he just seemed so much more frail,” said Bradley.
That’s why Bradley says he understands where the pope is coming from.
“Typically a pope dies in office,” said Bradley. “There’s nothing that says though that a pope may not resign.”
While Bradley says he understands that this move sets a precedent, at least in modern history, he doesn’t believe it will become a trend.
“I can’t imagine that anybody that ascends to that office is not going to do it wholeheartedly,” said Bradley, “absolutely seriously and with every ounce of energy.”