Local priests not shocked by Pope's resignation

(WKTV) - Local priests are not shocked by the news from Vatican City on Monday that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month.

Father John Mikalajunas of Holy Trinity Church and Father Mark Pasik of St. Mark's Church were both in the presence of the Pope back in October for the canonization of Mother Marianne Cope and both agree that he looked "tired."

Both priests told NEWSChannel 2 how they will remember Pope Benedict's eight years as the leader of the Catholic Church. "I think that he has been precisely the kind of leader that the church has needed under these tumultuous times," said Father Pasik. " I think that's been one of his greatest talents is to stay on course with something that has been given to human kind and to the church in terms of the gift and that is to be the light as Christ is as we profess to the world."

"Gentleness, kindness and intellect," said Father Mikalajunas. "Even though he's much shyer than Pope John Paul II on the stage of life, I think he has truly reached out to people."

Father Pasik thinks once he retires, Pope Benedict XVI won't stray far from Vatican City. "I think because of his age and his fragility and his mental competency is still there, his affect is still there and his personality and his brother living there also," said Father Pasik. "He would chose to live I think at the Vatican."

And of course, the speculation is starting already about who the next pontiff will be. "Obviously we don't know who will be the next pope. I have no crystal ball but I think we could say Benedict would have a person in mind," said Father Mikalajunas, "I think it's going to be Cardinal Scola, the Archbishop of Milan."

Bishop Robert Cunningham of the Syracuse Dioceses, who met with the Pope just last fall, reacted Monday to the news that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning.

Cunningham says he noticed the Pontiff was moving a little more slowly but adds that he's in good health for an 85-year-old.

Cunningham says history will remember Benedict kindly, "I think Benedict is a great teacher. His writings are very clear. History will judge him very kindly in that way."

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