Ashtabula County priests paused during the celebration of Mass today to remember Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, whose resignation hit news broadcasts minutes before Mass began.
The Rev. Raymond Thomas, pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Ashtabula, said he learned about the resignation from a radio news show as he was preparing for Mass. Today is a feast day, Our Lady of Lordes, and Thomas made a last-minute decision to “offer a Mass to the Holy Father.”
In Andover, the Rev. Matthew Albright, pastor of Our Lady of Victory, said the announcement came as a surprise to him and parishioners alike. He said the pope’s decision was indicative of the leader’s willingness to put the needs of the church before himself. At Assumption in Geneva, the Rev. Melvin Rusnak learned about the news from parishioners this morning. He also was surprised by the news, but not disappointed given the responsibilities of the office and the pope’s physical limitations.
“Every spiritual leader realizes his human limitations,” Rusnak said. The priest said an announcement would be made to the student body of Assumption School later in the morning, and he was working with the school’s leadership to decide the best manner in which to make that announcement.