Local parishioners, clergy react to Pope's retirement
MIAMI (WSVN) -- South Florida Catholics expressed their gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI as he delivered his farewell address in the Vatican, Thursday.
Students at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami came together at 2 p.m. for a special service to commemorate the exact moment the pontiff's retirement became effective. "We are not just some casual and meaningless product of evolution," said a student as he read a quote from the pontiff. "Each of us is the result of a thought of God," he continued.
The consensus among both students and parishioners who attended the service is that Benedict was able to follow in his predecessor's footsteps. "I don't think he should go, he's been a good pope," observed 7-year-old St. Mary student Robinson George.
Nine-year-old Lara Sofia Gonzalez remarked that Benedict had the church's best interest in mind when he made his decision. "He wanted what was best for us, so he wanted to retire," she said.
"Stepping into John Paul II's feet was not an easy task, and Pope Benedict certainly fit the bill," said parishioner Rita Daly.
Prayers also went out to the conclave as they prepare to begin the process of selecting Pope Benedict's successor. "I have faith, and I pray that they make the right decision," Daly said.
At the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Coconut Grove, the faithful wore yellow and brought sunflowers. The color and the flower are both symbols of the papacy and Catholicism. They gathered for the daily mass, but their prayers and attention were geared towards the historic occasion taking place in Rome. "The Father is very old," observed middle-aged parishioner Miguel Febles about the 85-year-old pontiff. "When we arrive to old [age], a coming change very soon, this is natural," he said.
Local clergy sized up the church's current situation. "This is happening, he's really retiring," said St. Thomas University Rev. Alfred Cioffi. "We don't have a pope right now in the Catholic Church, and so here we go," he continued.
Miami Archbishop Thomas E. Wenski issued a statement that read, We thank God for the good gift of this servant of Jesus Christ, Pope Benedict. We pray that the cardinals will be guided by the Holy Spirit as they elect a new pope to be an 'instrument in the Lord's hands' as he walks in the shoes of the fisherman."
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