An international announcement hits home in Freehold as a local Roman Catholic Church reacts to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation announcement.
Monday morning, Rev. Msgr. Sam A. Sirianni, Pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, learned of the Pope’s resignation after an early morning phone call from a brother.
“One of my brothers, who woke up much earlier than I, called me this morning and told me that the Pope had resigned and told me to turn on CNN,” said Sirianni. “Personally, I was surprised.”
According to Sirianni, the announcement of the Pope’s resignation does not directly affect the day-to-day functions of St. Robert Ballarmine. However, the announcement is noteworthy because Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is the first in 600 years.
“I was surprised by the announcement, but not shocked,” explained Sirianni. “A new code of Canon Law says that retirement is possible for the Pope. I always wondered who would be the first to retire.”
In a statement from Bishop David M. O'Connell, he explains that the Pope’s announcement was stunning and required a lot of courage.
“While I feel some sadness at the announcement, I think we can all see the courage and devotion of this great man to our Church and to the Ministry of Peter that he would hand over the reins of the Church to someone stronger and more vibrant than he at the age of nearly 86," said O’Connell in his statement. "In a world where power and influence are sought after and held tightly, this passing of the papal crozier speaks volumes about Pope Benedict XVI's humility and desire that the Catholic Church be led effectively and well.”
O’Connell’s statement further explained that the Pope’s resignation is due to his deteriorating health. The resignation will be effective Feb. 28.