FAIRFIELD — When the Rev. Jeff Henry woke up Monday morning, he was a little “surprised and shocked” to find that Pope Benedict XVI had announced his resignation.
But Henry, who is parochial vicar at St. Vincent Ferrer and Chaplain at St. Patrick/St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, quickly said the decision “was a very brave thing to do.”
“To step down and let someone else take his place . . . that’s a sign of humility,” he said.
The Rev. Sherwin Colaste of St. Joseph Parish in Rio Vista echoed the sentiments.
“I think the pope is showing everybody . . . the entire world, how it is to be courageous, to admit that he’s not Superman,” he said. “He is a human being, just like you and me.”
Colaste thought the message was apt for world leaders with regard to accepting their limitations.
“For me, it takes more courage to step down and be humble enough to say, ‘Hey, I’ll step down and give this chance to others,’ ” Colaste said. “A good leader should also be a good follower.”
Support for the decision also came from Fairfield’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioners John and Vivian Donahoe.
“He’s just a couple of years older than me, and I’m ready to quit, too,” John Donahoe, said, laughing.
He said that with age comes difficulty keeping up and “things that are relatively routine to handle . . . become very difficult.”
“It’s time to let the younger generation solve the world’s problems,” he said.
Vivian Donahoe called the pope a “wise man” for recognizing that he has limitations.
“If he does not feel physically able to do many of the responsibilities then . . . in my opinion, his resignation is generous and humble and in the best interest of the church,” she said.
Henry said the pope’s resignation does not set a precedent to resign rather than die as pontiff. Rather, he said the pope’s action may demonstrate that another option exists.
“Perhaps that is just another facet of that humility and bravery,” he said, referencing to Pope John Paul II’s decision to remain pontiff until his death.
With the resignation comes change in the church, Colaste said. Unknowns loom, such as whether the new pope will be conservative or liberal.
“It’s a time of anxiety a little bit for us but that is why we have hope and faith in God,” he said.
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