Pope Benedict XVI surprised some Catholic students when he announced Monday — days before Lent — that he will be stepping down from the papacy. According to CNN, the main reason for stepping down is that he is too tired to carry on.
Rev. Mark Inglot, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and St. John Church and Student Center, 955 Alton St., said the pope stepping down Feb. 28 probably is beneficial to the Roman Catholic Church.
“I believe the pope stepping down is a tremendous act of kindness,” Inglot said. “I think this is a good thing for the Catholic Church because the church needs someone with more vitality and energy.”
Inglot said the last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the pontiff stepping down is a piece of Catholic history in the making.
Religious studies and history professor Malcolm Magee said the difference between the pope resigning now and when it happened in 1415 was the reaction of Catholics around the world.
“Any time there is a change in popes, it is a big deal.” Magee said. “The difference between the last pope resigning in 1415 was that it led to a crisis within the Catholic Church, and now there is no crisis.”
Magee also said Pope Benedict had a hard act to follow after Pope John Paul II, but this helps future popes because it sets a precedent that it is OK to resign if the pope cannot fulfill his duties.
Still, between the sexual abuse scandal and the authority crisis within Pope Benedict XVI’s reign, Inglot said the pope did the best he could.
“He has had to address things that no other pope has had to talk about,” Inglot said. “The challenge now belongs to someone younger and more excited.”
Some Catholic students at MSU said they understand why the pope decided to step down.
Interdisciplinary studies in social science sophomore Josephine Gibbens, who is Catholic, said this is a minor setback in the church, and the pope served well during past eight years.
“I think him stepping down is better than continuing with the job and not fulfilling his duties,” Gibbens said. “Pope Benedict was a good pope because he was very straightforward.”
Gibbens also said other people will speculate too much about the resignation, and she has faith this whole event will turn out fine.
Comparative cultures and politics sophomore Anthony Swain said he had mixed feelings when he heard the news, but also said the pope resigning is going to help someone else adapt the church to more modern thinking.“At first, I thought he should have stayed to keep the tradition, but at the same time, it will be a good thing for the Catholic Church to have someone who can adapt to modern times,” he said.