Local Catholics Reflect on Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI officially left office Wednesday, creating the first planned vacancy in the papacy in 600 years
ANCHORAGE - Pope Benedict XVI officially left office Wednesday, creating the first planned vacancy in the papacy in 600 years.
The Anchorage archbishop, the Most Reverend Roger L. Schwietz, met Benedict several times, both before and after he became pope.
Schwietz said Benedict is gentle and a good listener, but it will take time to render a judgment about his tenure as pope.
"Right now people are saying it's probably a mixed legacy. It was controversial in many ways. He was a great teacher, wonderful theologian, great thinker, but at times there were controversies, as you know, that grew out of what he said."
The archbishop said lay Catholics have questions about the next two or three weeks before a new pope is chosen. "There are some things that will not happen. New bishops will not be named and so on. But the basic day-to-day things of the church will continue on."
At Holy Family Cathedral downtown, churchgoers said it's a bittersweet time in church history, but they praised the pope for his decision, which they said was led by the Holy Spirit.
Richard Barnes said, "It's really truly an act of humility to step down. And he's in our prayers, and we're certain God's will be done with the new pontiff."
Nina Malyshev said, "I mean, you know, what he did was, I think, very courageous, to say, 'I'm no longer up to the job,' and so in a sense it's sort of sad in a way that he felt he needed to step aside."
Schwietz said Benedict has made it clear he's going to stay out of the selection of the next pope and his agenda. "He won't be looking over his shoulder. He will be living in seclusion and prayer."