'Surprised' and 'shocked' were the works used by the majority of Catholics in Shepparton yesterday following the resignation announcement from Pope Benedict XVI.By Darren Linton
Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation as leader of the Catholic faith was met with surprise, shock and understanding in Shepparton.
St Brendan’s Catholic Church priest Fr Joseph Taylor was out for a morning walk when he heard the news.
‘‘I was out walking at 5.30
‘‘I think it is wonderful, I think in a way it honours retirement.’’
Fr Taylor said he was surprised by the news, but not shocked, a word which was used by a number of parishioners, including Grace Gill.
‘‘It is a shock,’’ she said. ‘‘But it needs to be done if his health is failing, I’m very happy with it.’’
Fr Taylor said following retirement, Pope Benedict had indicated he would move to a monastery, but he expected he would return and live quietly within the Vatican.
‘‘His mind is still good and I think he will keep writing and praying,’’ he said. Not only is the retirement of a pope unprecedented in the recent history of the church, it also means developing protocols for dealing with a former Pope.
‘‘I would think that he’s through all of that,’’ Fr Taylor said.
Fr Taylor said Pope Benedict would in one sense be remembered as an interim appointment, who was trying to revive the church in Europe.
As for the next Pope, Fr Taylor is looking to Africa or Asia.
‘‘It would be a different face of the church, there is huge growth in the church in Asia,’’ he said.
Canon Andrew Neaum from St Augustine’s Anglican Church in Shepparton drew parallels with the retirement last year of Dr Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
‘‘We have now both lost intellectual titans to retirement,’’ he said.
‘‘As academics and writers, Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict are almost without parallel in quality and depth.’’
He said both churches struggled with secularism, scandal and division in the developed world and both leaders had failed at politics and achieving radical and necessary change.
‘‘I suspect that the prayers of the ageing, retired Benedict and the teaching and writing prowess of Rowan Williams from Cambridge will be of far, far greater benefit to Christians than any politicking,’’ he said.
‘‘Indeed, to fail politically is surely a sign of grace.’’
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