Nashville's Catholic Community Reacts To Pope's Resignation - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Nashville's Catholic Community Reacts To Pope's Resignation

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by Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville's Cathedral of the Incarnation is a holy place rich in history, but Monday's noon Mass included references to a milestone for Catholicism.

Pope Benedict XVI has served for the last seven years following the death of Pope John Paul II in 2004. Monday morning, he shocked the world by announcing he would step down, effective February 28.

In a statement, the Pope emphasized that carrying out the duties of his office required strength of both mind and body, which is something he felt he could no longer do in his old age.

"I think his decision is a reflection of his own humility," said Bishop David Choby.

Choby has met Pope Benedict four times, and said he was not alarmed to learn about Benedict's surprise announcement.

"I don't find it surprising, you know, that he would reach a point where he would feel that he could no longer devote the kind of energy and stamina and drive that's a part of that particular responsibility," Choby said.

Pope Benedict's decision may have surprised some Catholics around the world, but he was not the first in history to resign. The last time was Pope Gregory XII in the year 1415, 598 years ago, who retired for political reasons when multiple people wanted the Papacy.

"I admire him. He's 85 and he's pooped," said Bruce Morrill, professor of Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt's Divinity School.

Morrill said he believed advances to modern medicine means this may not be the last time we see a Pope retire.

"This is a matter of the 21st century. This is new and again what's new is medical technology keeping people alive so much longer," Morrill said. "Going forward papacies will no longer be assumed to last until the man in office dies."

Bishop Choby said the next steps of the process will be different than what happened in 2004. Instead of having a funeral, like when Pope John Paul II passed away, the Cardinals will take time to reflect and then begin the selection process during a Papal conclave this spring.

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