Pope's retirement signals new journey for church - Catholic Courier

Pope’s retirement signals new journey for church

On the day Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI referred to himself as "a simple pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth," Father William Coffas was reminded of a poignant journey he had taken through the streets of Rome with the pilgrim pope and a crowd of the faithful in June .

Father Coffas had attended an evening Mass outside Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Corpus Christi). After the Mass, the pope led a procession bearing the Eucharist in a monstrance through the streets of Rome to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

"I didn’t know where we were going, but I was following the rest of the group, and I was following the Holy Father," said the priest, who is director of Becket Hall and assists at Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Thomas More parishes in Brighton.

Father Coffas said that profession was like the journey — guided by the Holy Spirit — that the Catholic Church is now on as it seeks its new leader. And he said the road map for that journey may well be the Year of Faith Pope Benedict instituted last year to encourage renewed study, spiritual practices and evangelical outreach to those lost on the journey.

"We ultimately can’t do it on our own," Father Coffas remarked. "We need the help of one another. We most certainly need the help of our God."

Several observers noted that the pope’s decision to retire demonstrated his concern for the well-being of the universal church.

"He proved to be a really spiritual priest," said Father Robert Bradler, diocesan director of missions.

Father Bradler noted that Pope Benedict is beloved by many youths and helped to reignite interest in the church’s traditions. He also said the decision to step down revealed the humility of the pope emeritus. That sentiment was echoed by Mercy Sister Miriam Nugent, pastoral associate of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greece.

"I so respect him for being brave enough to say, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’" remarked Sister Nugent, who with Mercy Sister Katherine Ann Rappl, principal of St. Rita School in Webster, witnessed the meeting of then-Pope Benedict XVI and President Barack Obama on the White House lawn when the pope visited the United States in 2008.

Sister Nugent said she hopes the next pope also will be a world traveler, spiritual, approachable and concerned about the needs of the world’s people.

"We have to pray to the Holy Spirit like crazy that the person chosen by the cardinals is the one chosen by God," she said.

The process of choosing a new pope will be watched with great interest by students in Emily Sutley’s sixth-grade religion classes at St. Rita School, their teacher said.

"They are very excited about what comes next and seeing the process," Sutley said. "I think that might come from me. This (papal transition) isn’t something that has happened a whole lot in my life."

Several people from the Diocese of Rochester are getting a chance to see the historical transition from front-row seats.

Father Thomas Rosica, a Rochester native and CEO of the Salt and Light TV network in Canada, recently was appointed to serve during the papal transition as assistant to Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, papal spokesman and head of the Holy See Press Office and of Vatican Radio. Father Rosica has been handling media relations and assisting with press briefings and press conferences in the Vatican Press Center.

Deacon David Tedesche, a seminarian for the Diocese of Rochester who is studying at Pontifical North American College, which is the U.S. seminary in Rome, was among the more than 50,000 who attended Pope Benedict XVI’s final Wednesday general audience. He said he saw many youths singing songs and people taking pictures and videos.

"Spanish, Italian, Polish, French, English could be heard," Deacon Tedesche told the Catholic Courier by e-mail. "It was an experience of the Catholicity of the church. The Holy Father’s speech was received by all as being very personal. The permanent deacon’s wife ahead of me had tears in her eyes while the Holy Father spoke."

 

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