By the time the students arrived to school on Monday morning most had heard the surprised announcement of Pope Benedict’s decision to resign, and if they were not aware, Principal Sciarappa relayed the news during morning announcements along with leading the students in morning prayers with special intentions for Pope Benedict XVI.
Upon hearing this stunning news, the majority of the students found Pope Benedict’s decision quite admirable and courageous.
Shane, a senior from Middletown, said “This is an unselfish move, and I have the utmost respect for Pope Benedict because he realized he is not able to continue his duties to the best of his potential and as a result made the right decision to resign.”
The religion teachers planned lesson for the day suddenly changed to discussing this important announcement, answering students’ questions, and pointing out the historical significance of the Pope’s decision – he is the first pontiff to resign in more than 600 years.
Faculty also spoke about how this announcement was made on World Day of the Sick, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Pope Benedict is the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide, and he relayed in his message that his pontifical duties requires “both strength of mind and body” and that his strength “in the last few months, had deteriorated in me.”
Religion teacher, Kevin Attridge told his students, “I was not surprised by Pope Benedict XVI resignation, his health did appear to be in decline recently, but I was impressed by the courage he exhibited in making this historic decision. As one of the most significant religious thinkers of the 20th century, he obviously was guided by God and moved by his pastoral concern and love for the Church.”
The majority of his students agreed with Mr. Attridge. “I think very highly of Pope Benedict for making this wise decision to step aside now due to his failing health,” said Fallon, a junior from Middletown.
Some students expressed concern when hearing this news. “I understand the reasons why Pope Benedict decided to resign and I respect his decision, but I’m not completely convinced it is the right choice for our Church at this time,” said Rich Nielsen, a junior from Long Branch.
Father Jeff, Pastor of Saint Mary Church and Director of Mater Dei Prep, relayed this message to the students, “While we are surprised by the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation, we will always be grateful to God for him and pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary grant him health and comfort his heart for this act of courage, profound humility, integrity and above all, love for God and the Church."
Several students recalled when they were in elementary school learning about how a pope is selected and the tradition of the white smoke appearing from the Vatican signifying the Cardinals have elected a new pontiff. It is amazing to them that they will be witness to this tradition as teenagers because most thought it would not happen until they were at least in college.
Danielle, a junior from Middletown, said “I was in third grade when Pope Benedict was elected to lead our Church, and now that I am older I have a better understanding of the process of selecting a pope and look forward to the coming weeks. I find the Pope’s action quite noble.”