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Nashua clergy reflect on end of Benedict's reign as Pope

Union Leader Correspondent

February 28. 2013 8:54PM

NASHUA - Members of the Catholic clergy in Nashua took a moment Thursday to reflect on the end of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI as he stepped into retirement.

First and foremost, Father Richard Kelley of St. Christopher Catholic Church said that Benedict's legacy will be that he retired.

"I never thought I would ever see it. He is the first Pope to resign in almost 600 years. Certainly that is to be remembered," he said.

"I will remember Pope Benedict for his admired example; he was a voice of reason, a voice to be listened to," he said.

While saying he was speaking personally, Kelley said Benedict's stunning retirement "certainly has some personal motives we don't know about."

"He certainly had a lot of difficulties that he faced up to in the best way that he could. And that is not in a bad way either; it was something he had to face," Kelley said, speaking of the child abuse scandals that have rocked the church.

With many speculating on the nationality of the new Pope, Kelley said, "all we want is the best candidate, wherever he might come from, but we have to be open to people from any area, I just hope and pray it is the best person wherever he may happen to come from. Who knows, he could even be an American, though I doubt that will happen."

Kelley said Benedict's retirement comes with an important lesson for all world leaders.

"So many people are power happy and hungry, and here was a man who was a leader of over one billion people, who voluntarily stepped down. He wasn't forced out. He did it freely, for what he thinks is the good of the church. I give him a lot of admiration for that."

Father Eric Delisle of Immaculate Conception Church said he was saddened by the news Benedict would step down. Despite his sadness, Delisle said, "I understand and respect (Benedict's retirement) due to his advanced years and health. Being the spiritual head of over one billion people can be taxing physically, mentally and spiritually."

Delisle, who said he is a great admirer of the now Pope emeritus, said those in his congregation who have shared their feelings over Benedict's resignation have expressed sadness at the news.

"It is sad but also exciting as well. It has us all wondering who will be the next Pope; it's like waiting for Christmas morning. It will be a new chapter that will begin for the church," Delisle said.

He added that he would like to see a new Pope who thinks like Benedict theologically, but who also has the skills to run the massive bureaucracy that is the Vatican.

"We obviously need someone who has sharp administration skills to straighten out some of the stuff going on in the Vatican."

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