Pope’s resignation brings variety of emotion

Last Tuesday, Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign from the papacy. Benedict’s announcement has drawn mixed emotions ranging from compassion for the leaving pope and excitement over the election of a new pope.

Maryann Mitts, women’s head basketball coach, is the faculty representative for Catholics on Campus.

“I think anytime that something like this happens there is a shock effect for people outside of the Catholic faith more so than people within the Catholic faith,” Mitts said.

Mitts said she felt that watching Pope John Paul II endure the slow progression of Parkinson’s disease was more shocking to the Catholic faithful than Pope Benedict’s resignation.

“I think that this decision is more universal, how most people would retire or resign from a position is what you are now seeing in this occasion in the Catholic Church,” Mitts said.

Mitts said she was in Rome over Christmas, where she attended a service that Pope Benedict XVI participated in. She said he seemed feeble and did not look well. Mitts added she thought it was courageous for the Catholic Church to opt out of the normal parameters to do what is best for the church.

“Obviously my compassion for the pope and my compassion and honor for who he is in our church, my heart feels a connection to this,” Mitts said.

While deeply moved, Mitts noted that Benedict’s resignation would have little effect on her daily life.

Rev. J. Friedel,  campus minister for Catholics on Campus and pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, echoed Mitt’s sentiment.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to have any effect on our day to day lives. Whether the seat is vacant or someone is the chair, our lives are still going to go on.”

Friedel mentioned that Catholics will likely notice more of a change after the election of the next pope.

“I think that with the way the Catholic Church works, a pope can with his own desire to see certain things happen set an agenda or direction,” Friedel said. “Then the whole worldwide church starts to look at it a bit more of an energized way.”

Friedel said one of the Catholic students on campus told him how excited he was at the possibility having a new pope full of vitality and energy.

“I just think for college students, especially traditional age college students, I think there is a lot of excitement over the possibility of a younger pope and one that has a little more vitality,” Friedel said.

Pope Benedict XVI will continue his post till the end of the month.

Friedel said that the church will not have to wait the standard nine day mourning period since it is aware of the vacancy ahead of time.

According to Friedel, once the seat is vacant, a conclave of 120 cardinals will come together to elect a new pope.

“At 52, I am excited because I’m like, let’s see what this guy can bring to this role,” Friedel said.

Southern students interested in more information about Catholics on Campus can contact MaryAnn Mitts via email  at [email protected].