Charlotte, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — Earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation.
Today, the Pope will officially step down — becoming the first Pope in nearly 600 years to do so.
While opinions vary about why the Pope chose to resign, in addition to the long-term effect his resignation may have on the Roman Catholic Church, we recently had the opportunity to get a local perspective regarding the issue.
Charlotte resident, Ben Torres, who is a parishioner at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Huntersville, N.C., recently spoke with CBS Charlotte about the Pope’s resignation:
Q. Were you surprised to hear of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation?
A. I was not all that surprised to hear of Pope Benedict’s decision to resign in lieu of his recent health decline. Even though this hasn’t happened often in history, the precedent is there for a reason – and I truly see it as an act of humility for him to admit before God and his fellow man that he truly believes the Church is called to have another leader who is more capable than he is at this time. He was, after all, chosen by the Conclave at a later age than most typically are.
Q. What do you think the Pope’s strengths/weaknesses were?
A. As Pope, Ratzinger was incredibly strong in promoting ecumenical dialogue with all communities of faith — and his ability to write on such tough subjects in our time exceeded people’s expectations, especially for laymen who have nowhere near the education many in Rome have had the pleasure of earning. The only weakness one could attribute to his case was not of his fault, but simply that due to his age he was not able to travel as much as so many of the Church would have hoped.
Q. Do you think the next Pope will adopt social media as Pope Benedict did?
A. It would certainly be to the next Pope’s advantage in reaching the current generations who continue to communicate and express themselves in forms of the various social media channels that have been developed. Everyone was ecstatic about the idea of Pope Benedict XVI to be active on Twitter – it will certainly depend on from what region of the world the next Pope comes from, but I anticipate that similar channels will be used to keep a positive influence in those venues that need that so desperately.
Q. Who do you think the next Pope should be?
A. Everyone seems to think they are “experts” on this idea – which is why my confidence in Church tradition continues to grow. The process by which one is selected truly calls on the use of God’s grace to guide the minds of the faithful… if you were to look at recent trends, it seems feasible to suggest that the next Pope could come from an area of the world where our faith continues to thrive (even amid constant persecution or other challenges). This could very well be Africa, but there are also strong voices from the Americas that may also be called on. Cardinal Dolan could certainly be in the mix, but age/experience in his vocation would certainly be a factor.
Q. What do you think Pope Benedict XVI’s greatest achievements were?
A. Pope Benedict XVI remained steadfast in believing that the Church doctrines that address many social and secular issues of today remain the proper approach – he was resilient in citing the philosophical and theological foundations from ages past and making them just as relevant in this day of age as they were hundreds of years ago. In an era where topics of homosexual marriage, cohabitation, contraception and other “touchy” terms have become commonplace in much of today’s cultural conversations, this Pope continued to lead the way for practicing believers to help demonstrate – through love and compassion – the Lord’s will at work in our daily lives, and how to properly conduct ourselves in a world challenged at every moment by the temptation of evil.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte