As the world reacts to news that Pope Benedict the XVI will resign on Feb. 28, Riverhead residents shared their reactions.
According to a statement made on Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict XVI cited health concerns as his reason for stepping down.
". . . in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," he said in his statement.
In Riverhead, the Rev. Larry Duncklee, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, reflected on the Pope's announcement.
"I think it's a wonderful statement; it's a wise statement," he said. "He realizes that physically and mentally, he's not up to the task anymore and rather than hang around, he's not selfish. He's looking toward the greater good of the Church and open to new leadership. It was a courageous, wise statement."
Rev. Duncklee said he does not believe parishioners will be shaken by the news. "People's reactions, they play off the reaction of their pastor," he said. "I live here, with the retired bishop. He thinks it's a good decision and I think it's the right decision. If parishioners ask, I'll say it's a courageous, wise decision. I'll tell them what he said. Why say more than what he said -- he said it as best he could. He's the Pope."
On the Riverhead Patch Facebook page, reader Doug Wald looked back on the Pope's past eight years. "Aside from his age, he had to carry not only an unbelievable burden on behalf of the Vatican in being the primary reviewer of every single abuse case globally for 25 years prior to his becoming Pope where the Church was being sued/accused, but also had to endure all the fallout, the cover ups and stigma while trying to reconcile and heal victims from all the outrageous hypocrisies that were done beforehand," he said. "I don't envy him or his successor."
Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate said it took "great courage" for Pope Benedict XVI to resign. "The last time this happened was 600 years ago. It's a big decision, a monumental thing that has not been part of the papal history."
The Pope, she said, was a "great academic; a contemplative person that has always worked hard to try to build up the church. I think he's done very good work."
What do you think of the Pope's decision to resign? Tell us in the comments section.