Pope Benedict XVI resigned from his seven-year papacy this morning while speaking to the College of Cardinals. The pope will officially step down Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. Central European Time.
The pope stated his age and diminished strength “are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
David Hackett, UF religion professor, said he believes it’s a sign of the pope knowing his physical limitations and recognizing he just can’t handle the job the way he feels it should be done.
“I think that’s a very healthy thing for him to do,” Hackett said. “It’s hard to keep going at his age. Can you imagine the University of Florida having a president 85 years of age? We wouldn’t allow it.”
Hackett said he hopes this sets a precedent for future popes to consider when becoming frail.
The pope’s resignation has nothing to do with Lent, in Hackett’s opinion.
The news came as a shock to Daniel Conigliaro, student and parishioner.
“I don’t think anyone in the American church and the worldwide church was expecting it,” he said.
As for who will take over for Pope Benedict XVI after he steps down on Feb. 28, Francis “Pat” Fitzpatrick already has a vote.
“I know who I’d like to be our new pope: Cardinal Turkson of Ghana,” Fitzpatrick, a Secular Franciscan of the Catholic church, said. “I’d like to see someone from the Southern Hemisphere.”
Ryan Irwin, a student and parishioner, said he hopes the new pope will be American.
“I think there will be a lot of excitement here in the states if we have our first American pope,” he said.
“He was making this decision for the whole of the Catholic church,” Irwin said. “He felt that it was the best decision he could make for God’s people.
The last pope to resign from the papacy was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, nearly 600 years ago. Gregory XII stepped down in an attempt to end the Great Western Schism, during which several other Cardinals claimed papacy.
Dana Edwards and Michelle Plitnikas wrote this story online.