Locals React To News of Pope's Retirement

Empriss Campbell

JACKSON, Tenn. - Leaders at Jackson's St. Mary's Catholic Church were stunned to learn their Pope of 6 years is leaving his post.

"Like everybody, I turned on the car radio at 9 o'clock and heard it for the first time like everybody...surprised though I had heard some indication that he might retire," said Monsignor Thomas Kirk.

Pope Benedict XVI leads more than a billion Roman Catholics across the world and is the first to resign from this holy position. St. Mary's Monsignor Thomas Kirk said he will miss having Pope Benedict as the face of the Catholic Church.

"Each Pope brings his own charisma, qualities, leadership, spirituality. This Pope was a great theologian, one of the greatest by my estimation," said Kirk.

Monsignor Kirk is the leader of the more than 1,000-member church in Jackson. He sees the Pope's decision to retire as a sign of humbleness in admitting he was too tired to go on.

"I think it's admirable that he would say, 'I'm just not up to it'. It's very rare," said Monsignor Kirk.

Kirk believes the Pope's resignation will bring attention to the values of the office.

"I welcome the attention to that office and all the discussions of who will succeed as the 266th Pope has people thinking about principles, higher values."

A new Pope will be selected next month.


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