Horsham Priest Supports Pope's Decision
A Catholic priest from St. Catherine of Siena Church in Horsham said he understands why Pope Benedict XVI has decided to step down.
A Horsham priest expressed support for the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who will leave his post as the leader of the Catholic Church at the end of February.
Rev. Joseph F. Rymdeika, of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Horsham, said Pope Benedict is teaching the nation's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics a "something different" than that of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who served until his death in 2005.
"(Pope Benedict) said he would do this if it ever came to the point where he couldn’t fulfill his duties," Rymdeika said, adding that that was not the case with Pope John Paul II. "We saw him die a very slow, painful death."
The Vatican cited “advanced age” as the reason for Benedict's resignation, which Rymdeika said is technically called abdication.
"He knows that someone can do this job better than he can," Rymdeika said. "He knows the church is not his church. The Holy Spirit runs the church."
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, also showed support for Pope Benedict's decision to step down.
"From his work as a young theologian at Vatican II to his ministry as universal pastor of the Church, Joseph Ratzinger has served God and the global Christian community with intelligence, eloquence and extraordinary self-sacrifice," Chaput said in a statement. "As Pope Benedict XVI, he has led God's people through complicated times with uncommon grace, and his stepping down now, at 85, from the burdens of his office is another sign of his placing the needs of the Church above his own. Catholics worldwide owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He will remain in our hearts and always be in our prayers."
The last Pope to step down in the same manner as Pope Benedict was Pope Celestine V, according to Rymdeika. Pope Celestine served for five months in 1294. Following his abdication, Rymdeika said Pope Celestine led a "saintly and very holy life."
Rymdeika, who serves a parish of 7,000 to 8,000 people in Horsham, told Patch that it's "far too early" to determine who might fill the post once Benedict vacates it. Already, Rymdeika said he's heard "a lot of speculation" about someone from a developing country - such as Latin America or the Philippines - assuming the post.
"It could be another European, we don't know," Rymdeika said. "There are a number of Africans who could do the job very nicely."
Pope Benedict's ultimate successor shows that "none of us is irreplaceable."