The news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign his post at the end of the month — making him the first Roman Catholic pope to step down before his death since the Middle Ages — reverberated in Southampton this week, the site of a minor basilica.
Father Mike Vetrano, the pastor of Southampton Village's Basilica Parish of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, said Monday that the pope's decision acknowledges the demands of his position.
“Given the importance of the papacy, they need a leader who is strong a vital to do that," Fr. Vetrano said.
In his announcement, 85-year-old Pope Benedict cited his advanced age.
“To the extent that we’ve seen him at functions and on TV, it's been more or less obvious that he's become more frail and had difficulty walking,” Fr. Vetrano said. “He would not be able to lead in the manner that he feels is necessary.”
He said that he has always seen Pope Benedict as a very modern and realistic person, and that the pope recognizes the post calls for him to be an active figure in worldwide leadership and politics.
“It's very possible for a person to live a long time as their health declines," Fr. Vetrano said, and for that reason the pope thought it would be best for him to step aside. “I’m sure he has a very close relationship with God and he has prayed about this quite a bit. ... “I think he's prayed over this and this is what he feels God wants him to do."
The Rev. Msgr. Donald Hanson, the pastor of the Most Holy Trinity Church in East Hampton Village, said, "It took courage on his part to buck the tide ... I thought this was very thoughtful and really loving on the part of Benedict — he knows he not up to the job anymore and he's making his way for someone else."