L.A. archbishop calls pope's retirement an 'act of humility'
Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose H. Gomez told parishioners during a midday Mass on Monday that it was a historic day and Pope Benedict XVI's decision to retire was a Christ-like act of humility.
Gomez made no direct mentions of predecessor Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the archbishop emeritus whom he has barred from public duties in the archdiocese because of his handling of clergy sex abuse cases, but did offer a prayer for anyone hurt by a member of the church.
“It seems like he feels his health is failing, so he decided to retire,” Gomez said of the pope. “Today is an historic day in our Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI has truly been the Holy Father of the family of God, his Catholic Church. His decision to resign is a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint, who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people.
"I have great personal affection for this pope," he continued. "In my opinion, he is one of the wisest persons in our world today. Every day I try to learn from his words and example, just witnessing his ministry, reading his writings is a beautiful lesson for each one of us about how to be a true discipline of Jesus Christ.”
Gomez said Benedict chose him as archbishop of Los Angeles, and he will always be grateful for that. “Let us thank God today for the love and witness of Pope Benedict XVI.”
Later, he added, “Today we also pray for anyone who has been hurt by a member of the church. We continue to pray for the healing of wounds and restoration of trust.”
Mahony announced Monday he would travel to Rome for the conclave of Cardinals to choose the pope's successor when Benedict resigns Feb. 28, a move that victims of priest abuse publicly criticized.
Some parishioners at the Mass took a more forgiving view of Mahony at Monday’s midday Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral.
“Cardinal Mahony will be there, and that is College of Cardinals decision. God bless Cardinal Mahony," said Charles Drees, a Mass attendee. "We all have our faults. He has committed his faults, and God bless Cardinal Mahony.”
Drees said the pope put his church first in deciding to retire: “It is a personal decision for himself that is always the right decision. It is in hands of God.”
Drees said Pope Benedict leaves a strong legacy.
“The church is vibrant," he said. "The church is growing. The body of Christ will always live in jubilance.”
Others parishioners at the cathedral said it is the pope's right to decide Mahony’s future.
Daisy Talise, another Mass attendee, said Mahony is Rome’s problem and his fate is not for parishioners to decide.
“As a parishioner I cannot tell about that. That is their own problem and they have to do something about it,” she said.
Talise said she was saddened by the news of Benedict’s decision but believes it is also an opportunity to begin a new chapter.
“I couldn't believe it at first,” she said.
“I believe there will be some changes in the Catholic Church,” Talise said regarding how abuse is handled across the entire church. "But as parishioners, all we can do is pray there will be no more kids
-- Richard Winton