Pope Benedict’s recent resignation will have no immediate effect on the local Catholic parish, says Father Kevin Anderson, pastor of the Christ Our Light Catholic Church in Princeton.
Pope Benedict announced his resignation Feb. 11 and his last day as pope was Thursday, February 28. He was the first living pope to resign from the papacy in six centuries and his resignation came at the end of serving eight years as head of the Catholic Church.
“No one parish or pastor is going to feel any immediate effect because everything is operating as they need to,” Father Anderson said two days before Pope Benedict left the Vatican to take a temporary residence at the papal summer villa south of Rome.
He noted that when Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II died, Catholic churches all over continued operating as normal during the process of selecting a new pope.
While Anderson does not foresee any immediate effect of Benedict’s resignation, Anderson said there could be an effect resulting from Benedict’s replacement.
“Obviously, when a new pope is placed, he may make some decisions that will have a long-range effect,” Anderson said.
Pope Benedict’s resignation was a “very noble gesture,” Anderson continued. “Obviously, he is looking out for the good of the church. He is not strong enough or healthy enough to lead the church (anymore). It was a very sacrificial act.”
Anderson surmised that Pope Benedict’s decision to resign might have been influenced by Benedict having observed John Paul II in poor health before John Paul II died.
Pope Benedict likely did not want to put the church through that, even though a pope has not resigned in hundreds of years, Anderson added. “He loved the church so much he did the best for the church,” Anderson said.
Anderson, at the same time, said he is not so surprised by the resignation, after having watched Pope Benedict first-hand when Anderson was in Italy last spring.
Anderson was in a group of 40 on a pilgrimage in Italy, most of the group members from Christ Our Light. The itinerary included Rome, where the group spent a lot of time at Vatican City where the Pope resides, and to Assisi (birthplace of St. Francis), and also Venice and Florence.
Anderson said he saw Pope Benedict at a “general audience” and noticed that the pope “did not look in very good health.” Anderson remembers Benedict standing “very slumped,” and appearing “feeble and weak.”
Media reports state the Vatican is looking to elect a new pope in time to install him before Palm Sunday, March 24. A conclave of Catholic cardinals from around the world will elect the new pope.