Pope resigns, locals surprisedPublished 10:47am Monday, February 11, 2013
Local residents join millions of Catholics around the world in contemplating Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement Monday he would resign from papal office.
While the quick decision of Pope Benedict XVI won’t put a burden on area church operations, the news comes as a huge surprise to local priests, nonetheless.
It was “a total shock at first,” said. Father Steve Peterson of St. Columbanus of Blooming Prairie and Sacred Heart Church in Hayfield. “But I totally understand his motivation, and I think it was a courageous move on his part to recognize that his health has diminished … I think it’s a significant sacrifice on his part to step aside.”
Father Jim Steffes of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Austin said the move will be a wonderful opportunity for the Catholic church to educate people going forward. He trusts the pope’s decision and that move will be beneficial for the church.
“It’s an opportunity for a lot of us to learn,” Steffes said. “It hasn’t happened in 600 years, so it’s a new learning opportunity for all of us.”
Peterson will address the resignation during this week’s mass and hopes for a quick transition to a new pope.
“Our prayers are primarily for a speedy transition and that the cardinals would select a man that best represents the church and that he be a holy man,” he added.