Catholics react to pope stepping down
February 13, 2013
PITTSBURGH — Some Pennsylvania Roman Catholics said they’d like to see a younger person replace Pope Benedict XVI, who announced Monday that he’s stepping down amid failing health. Four U.S. cardinals with Pennsylvania roots will have a say in making that decision, church officials said Monday. Cardinal Donald Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh and is a former bishop of that city, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Cardinal Sean O’Malley also grew up in Pittsburgh, said Bishop David Zubik, the current bishop of Pittsburgh. Cardinal Justin Rigali, the retired archbishop of Philadelphia, also will be eligible to vote for a new pope. Parents who lined up at St. Kilian Parish School in Cranberry Township Monday afternoon waiting for their children said the pope’s sudden resignation came as a surprise, given that he will be the first pope to retire in more than 600 years. Several of those parents said the papacy doesn’t have a huge effect on their faith. But others urged fellow Catholics to pray that the transition period moves smoothly. Evans City resident Ann Hodak, who waited outside the school to pick up her child, said she doesn’t have a problem with the pope retiring, even if it is an unusual move. “It’s his prerogative,” she said. “It’s really just like any other job that when you’re ready to retire, you’re ready to retire. If you can’t fully put yourself into the job, then it’s time to move on.” Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, in a statement released Monday, said that Pope Benedict believes the church needs “a clear, strong and energetic voice ... to speak to the modern world.” Cranberry Township resident Sue Majeski said she can’t blame the pope for stepping down. Years of being in the international spotlight can take its toll, she said, especially on a man of advanced age. “I was shocked when I heard it,” she said. “But he’s 85. There aren’t many 85-year-olds who can carry on with what they have to do.” Laura Reese of Cranberry said people everywhere should pray that the transition to the next pope goes smoothly. “As Catholics we need to be mindful as individuals as we look at our faith,” she said. The Associated Press contributed to this report.