Pope's Resignation 'Shocks' Priest
Father Robert Hawkins at St. Luke parish in Barrington stunned by Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down from the papacy.
Father Robert Hawkins was “shocked” and “taken aback” by the announcement on Monday by Pope Benedict XVI that he is resigning the papacy.
“What made it a little more stunning was that Pope Paul II suffered from Parkinson’s until the end,” said Father Hawkins, the priest at St. Luke Parish in Barrington.
But most Catholic clergy always considered Pope Benedict more of “an interim” Pope because of his age, he said. He was 77 when he ascended to that position eight years ago.
The announcement was still rather stunning, Father Hawkins said. No one expected it. Pope Benedict is the first Pope in 600 years to step down – a decision seen widely as a courageous move.
“I guess I’m still kind of getting used to the idea,” Father Hawkins said. “For eight years, he has served very well.”
Father Hawkins said he does not expect any major change with a new Pope even as the world becomes more and more secular.
“The church is slow to change,” he said. “If there is a change, I think it will be more in style than in substance.”
Father Hawkins said he expects the Catholic Church to continue working for peace, justice and immigration reforms – issues that Pope Benedict XVI championed. And he anticipates that his predecessor will have a similar theological doctrine and Pope Benedict’s communication skill.
Pope Benedict’s greatest gifts to the papacy were “his intellect and his humility,” he said.
Because of his age, he will not be able to vote on his replacement -- the Catholic Church does not allow anyone over age 80 to vote for a Pope, said Father Hawkins.
Father Raymond Ferrick at Barrington's other Catholic parish, Holy Angels, could not be reached for comment.
See a story in the New York Times on who might replace Pope Benedict.