EUGENE, Ore. — Local parishioners and even the priests in the Catholic community were taken aback by Monday’s big announcement that the pope is resigning at the end of the month. While surprised, they didn’t let the shock shake their faith.
As parishioners made their way through the doors at St. Mary Catholic Church in Eugene for noon Mass, they reflected on Benedict the XVI’s service as pope.
“He’s been a wonderful pope and we’re going to miss him greatly,” said parishioner Tom Kuzma.
Though they may have understood his decision, they were surprised.
“I heard it this morning and it was really quite startling. This was a shocking thing that hasn’t happened since, I think, the 15th century,” said Father Bryce McProud, St. Mary Catholic Church.
Despite their dismay, they stood beside him in this tough decision and were grateful for his time with the church.
“It’s also great courage. I mean holy smokes, he’s the first person in they say 600 years to do that, so that takes great humility,” said Father David Jaspers, St. Alice Catholic Church.
“Pope Benedict signed off on me personally, so I have a very strong appreciation for his papacy,” Father McProud said.
But of course there is some concern.
“One girl wrote, ‘What about the flock?’ You know, what about his flock, and I just wrote back, ‘I think he’s saying this is the best way he can shepherd. I’ve led you as far as I can go and now it’s time for a new leader to take you further,’” Father Jaspers said.
Though they may be unsure of the church’s future at this time, each one turned as they always had to God, praying for the pope and for the coming transition to go smoothly.
Most of the people we spoke with were very supportive of the pope’s decision, and they trusted in the church’s ability to lead them through this time of uncertainty.