Gympie priest deems Pope's decision to retire 'courageous'

St Patrick's Catholic Parish priest, Fr Pat Cassidy.
St Patrick's Catholic Parish priest, Fr Pat Cassidy. Lee Gailer

GYMPIE'S Catholic parish priest, Fr Pat Cassidy, said Pope Benedict's resignation was a courageous decision and served as an example to all leaders - that if they couldn't do the job properly, get out.

He said the news had not surprised him, as the head of the church had made it clear from the beginning that if he felt not up to the task he would call it a day.

"It doesn't surprise me, as he's been struggling with ill health," Fr Pat said.

"I think it's a courageous thing he's done, considering history."

When Benedict resigns on February 28 he will become the first pope to step down in six centuries.

The 85-year-old announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals earlier this week.

A Vatican spokesman said Benedict had a pacemaker for years and was resigning because he felt he had become too ill to handle the burdens of the papacy.

Pope Paul VI, who preceded the late Pope John XXIII, introduced a mandatory retirement age of 70 for priests and 75 for bishops and archbishops.

There is no mandatory retirement age for the pope as he holds that position for life.

"Retirement is an interesting word," Fr Pat said.

"Most continue to work in other capacities. There is a fairly good system in place in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

"We trust the archdiocese will provide, and it does."

He said Pope Benedict's decision to resign was a "wonderful example" to leaders of institutions, organisations and corporations. "If you can't do the job properly, get out," he said.

 

PONTIFF FAST FACTS

  • Pope Benedict XVI was the 265th Pope and the first in six centuries to retire.
  • He had a pacemaker installed before becoming pope in 2005.
  • After retirement, Benedict will most likely be referred to as Bishop of Rome, emeritus.
  • Just hours after the Pontiff announced his resignation, a freak thunderstorm swept over Rome and a lighting bolt struck the basilica of St Peter's dome.
  • Among his achievements, Benedict gave the world its first Australian Catholic saint, Mary MacKillop.
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