Varied reaction of praise, sadness and even criticism upon the news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter.
Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, and Spain.
He delighted our beloved United States of America when he visited Washington and New York in 2008. As a favored statesman he greeted notables at the White House. As a spiritual leader he led the Catholic community in prayer at Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As a pastor feeling pain in a stirring, private meeting at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, he brought a listening heart to victims of sexual abuse by clerics.
Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.
He unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church. More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity.
He spoke for the world’s poor when he visited them and wrote of equality among nations in his peace messages and encyclicals. He pleaded for a more equitable share of world resources and for a respect for God’s creation in nature.
Those who met him, heard him speak and read his clear, profound writings found themselves moved and changed. In all he said and did he urged people everywhere to know and have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
The occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s world.
Cardinal Francis Arnize, Prefect emeritus for the Congregation of Divine Worship:
On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years. The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.
“The prayers and gratitude of American Catholics are with Pope Benedict XVI today. The Holy Father’s decision displays extraordinary humility and love for the Church, two things that have been the hallmarks of his service. Americans were inspired by his visit to the United States in 2008, and by his quiet, steady leadership of the Church in uncertain times. People of all nations have been blessed by the sacrifices he has made to sow the seeds of hope, justice, and compassion throughout the world in the name of Our Lord and Savior.”
This is a man of great integrity…looking out for what he believes is the best interest of our church. – VP on Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the ‘Knights of Columbus’:
In these remaining days of his papacy, our thoughts and prayers are with Pope Benedict XVI, who has worked so hard in leading the Church, and has always been such a good friend to the Knights of Columbus. We wish him all the best in his retirement. In addition, we pray for all those cardinals who will take part in the conclave, and for his successor, that God may inspire them as they carry out the mission with which they are entrusted.
“The Catholic University of America is surprised and saddened to learn that Pope Benedict XVI will resign the office of the papacy effective February 28, 2013. Throughout his career, Benedict XVI has conferred upon the church the great gift of his theological wisdom, in a special way deepening our understanding of Catholic education and the role of the Catholic educator. He has been a public figure of considerable importance, reminding the world of the inviolable dignity of the human person, and the call of the Gospel to charity. Above all, he has been a faithful, charitable, and inspired leader of the church, a true lover of Jesus Christ. The Catholic University of America will always treasure in a personal way his visit to our campus on April 17, 2008, to address Catholic educators from around the United States. We will continue to reflect with gratitude on his papacy which has been a gift to The Catholic University of America, to the church, and to the world.”
“Today Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world.”
“Pope Benedict XVI has been a great spiritual leader. Before His Holiness’ triumphant visit to the United States, he stated that the ‘world has greater need of hope than ever: hope for peace, for justice, and for freedom.’ That was his message to America; that has been his message to the world.
“As a public official, I will be forever grateful to Pope Benedict for his powerful Encyclical, ‘God Is Love,’ where he wrote of the urgency for public servants and government to promote justice.
“Although Pope Benedict XVI is stepping aside, the world will continue to be inspired by His Holiness’ spirituality, leadership, and vision for the future. We all thank him for his legacy of concern for children and wish him well.”
“We give thanks to God for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. I was blessed to meet the Holy Father just a few weeks ago, and I was overwhelmed with how he radiated the love of God. He has been an inspiration to Catholic Relief Services, especially in how he has repeatedly stressed that our faith is inextricably linked to charity and social justice, which he expressed so eloquently in his encyclicals and most recently in his letter marking the season of Lent that we begin observing this week.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s willingness to step aside comes as a surprise this Monday morning. What is not surprising is his humility. Indeed, it is one of his most defining characteristics, one that separates him from today’s ego-centric public figures.
During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI used his power to take significant steps backwards for women. A staunch opponent of women’s leadership, during Pope Benedict’s tenure he declared women’s ordination the gravest crime against the Church, excommunicated all Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and personally had Fr. Roy Bourgeois dismissed from his Maryknoll community for supporting women priests.
As Roman Catholics worldwide prepare for the conclave, we are reminded that the current system remains an ‘old boys club’ and does not allow for women’s voices to participate in the decision of the next leader of our Church. WOC members plan to host vigils and raise “pink smoke” during the conclave as a prayerful reminder of the voices of the Church that go unheard.
The people of the Church are desperate for a leader who will be open to dialogue, and will have the courage to create systems that will address the sexism, exclusion, and abuse in our Church. The Catholic Church needs to be a voice for justice in the world. We pray for a leader who can truly minister to all of the people of God.”
Like all Catholics, we appreciate that Pope Benedict put the needs of the Church first in determining he is no longer able to meet the demands of his position. We wish him a peaceful retirement.
At this time of significant transition, we hope that the Cardinals who will elect the new Pope take time to listen to the people of the Church, and that they hear the voice of the Holy Spirit calling for a Pope who will be a Shepherd to all of God’s people. We hope for a leader who will work to heal the divisions of recent decades, and who values dialogue above conformity.
As members of the Church who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, as well as family members and allies, we call on the Cardinals and the new Pope to enter into a true dialogue with our community. We call for an end to statements that inflict harm on already marginalized people, depict us as less than fully human, and lend credence to those seeking to justify discrimination. We call on our Church not only to embrace but to champion the dignity and equality of all humans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We call on all members and friends of DignityUSA to enter into a period of prayer and reflection as we prepare for the conclave.