Updated: February 12, 2013 5:29PM
Rev. Fred Pesek, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Wadsworth, said he didn’t believe his mother who called him from the south suburbs just after 7 a.m. Monday with the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.
“I’m shocked,” Pesek said. “I never expected it. But the pope has his own reasons. He thinks it’s best for the continuation of the papacy and leading our church forward.”
Will the resignation have an effect on his parish? “Not immediately,” Pesek said. “But in the big picture, yes.”
Pesek said the subject of Benedict’s resignation will be discussed in a parish meeting this week.
Joe Neumann of North Chicago, a devout Catholic, who shares a German heritage with Pope Benedict, called the resignation “a great sign” and said it ushers in an “end-of-the-world era.”
“He knows he can’t handle a lot of stuff,” Neumann said. “We’re facing a lot of tough spiritual issues: Same-sex marriage, abortion, wars, revolutions. He knows we need a younger guy in there.”
Neumann said he expects the new pope to be a younger man, someone “well-rounded,” with “good spiritual qualities” who knows “the troubled parts of the world.”
“I greeted it with two feelings,” said Mary Gramins, chair of the Theology Department at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, a private girl’s high school in Lake Forest. “First, I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong he’s not telling us about and second, a sense of real admiration for the courage his decision took. I’m very proud of him.”
Gramins said Benedict’s decision is “a very valid and contemporary idea” of how papal succession should move forward and “a good role model for popes of future generations.”