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Catholic students react to pope’s resignation
Senior Staff Writer
Juggling homework, class and a social life usually concern most college students, but occasionally a global news story hits home.
Catholic students at UNT are no exception as the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation from the papacy on Feb. 11 caught them off-guard and left them concerned.
“We were just really surprised,” said Amanda Dsouza, UNT Catholic Campus Ministries president and pre-journalism freshman. “The illness he had must have been very serious because it forced him to resign. We were just shocked.”
Almost 600 years have passed since the last time a pope resigned – Pope Gregory XII in 1417 – so surprise was the only reaction for students involved at the Catholic Campus Ministries, Dsouza said. The pope is still an instrumental part of the Catholic faith, so anytime something happens involving the role, the outcomes are important to Catholic students.
“The pope is the earthly figure who leads us,” Dsouza said. “I definitely think the pope still plays a big role in modern Catholicism.”
Non-student Catholics in Denton were also caught off guard with the pope’s sudden resignation, Director of Campus Ministry Luisa Martini said. Because of the timing, Martini herself wasn’t even sure it was possible.
“The role of the pope is definitely important in my life because he’s the head of my Church,” Martini said. “I was definitely surprised because I didn’t even know a pope could resign, but he took his time and made sure this is what he had to do.”
Health reasons were cited as the reason for his resignation, Martini said. With technology rapidly changing every year, the requirements of the pope have evolved, including participation in more activities than they have in the past.
“Over the last 100 years, the pope has had many more demands, things such as traveling to places like Mexico and Brazil for events,” Martini said. “In the past, obviously the pope couldn’t travel the world. So he resigned because he couldn’t do those things anymore.”
Both Dsouza and Martini agreed on the pope’s importance in connecting with the youth. With Pope Benedict XVI’s exit from the papacy, the task of interacting with followers now falls to his successor.
“Popes are vital to lead us,” Martini said. “John Paul II kind of kickstarted the youth movement and played a huge role by starting World Youth day and just creating a connection with the youth, while allowing them to learn more about their faith. It’s good for young people to have a pope they can connect with.”
When a new pope is selected Feb. 28, the Catholic Campus Ministry will watch together as a new leader is chosen. Though the person who receives the title is important, the papacy as a role will go on regardless of who gets the nod.
“The papacy is an office,” performance junior Michael Fowler said. “The Holy Spirit is going to guide the church and the pope, while also protecting the office.”