Though the news of the coming resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was shocking to Catholics around the world Monday morning, at least one local church deacon said he is also proud of his pope for being honest with himself and his church.
Jeff Sykes, a deacon at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mattituck, said he and Father Joseph Staudt discussed the news and both admired the honesty of the 85-year-old, who announced Monday that he would resign on Feb. 28 because he was too infirm to carry on — the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years, according to this Associated Press report.
"The first thing that struck both of us is how honest and courageous this decision is, as shocking as it is,” Sykes said. “It was obviously not an easy decision and unheard of for hundreds of years.”
The pope, the leader to more than a billion Roman Catholics around the world, said in a statement that he made the decision to step down after repeatedly examining his conscience.
“Both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.
A new pope will be elected before the end of March at the Vatican — something that the Rev. Peter Garry of Southold's St. Patrick Catholic Church sees as a good thing.
"Let's face it, when you're the pope you're supposed to be in it for life," said Rev. Garry. "But Pope Benedict's contributions to the world as a theologian and writer outside of the time he was pope is also important and will not be forgotten. And it's good to have changes in leadership of the biggest corporation in the world if you ask me."
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