Resignation of the pope hits USD

By Janeth Cervantes

Nearly coinciding with the beginning of the Lenten season this year, Pope Benedict XVI decided to give up the papacy. On Feb. 11, Benedict XVI announced his resignation to Roman Catholics around the world. At a more microscopic level, the Catholic USD community felt the effects of this event as well.

The resignation of Benedict XVI marks the first time that a pope has stepped down from this position in modern history. The last pope who resigned was Pope Gregory XII almost 600 years ago in 1415 to help end the Western schism of the church.

Monsignor Daniel Dillabough, the vice president of university mission and ministry, was shocked to hear about the resignation.

“I think everyone was caught off guard and surprised,” said Dillabough. “Since it has not happened in so long and in these circumstances, traditions and processes have to be tweaked or created.”
Senior Cait Dub said that she was also shocked by the resignation of Benedict XVI, and that it will have implications for USD’s Roman Catholic community.

“[I] was unaware that the pope could retire in such a manner,” Dub said. “It has definitely shaken the faith in the catholic people.”

Benedict XVI’s decision to resign was voluntary. In the past, popes including Gregory XII have resigned because of scandals or bribes. Benedict XVI, however, said that his resignation involves age and health.

Throughout the years some Catholics have noticed the tolls Pope Benedict’s health has taken on him.

“Arthritis has made him increasingly hesitant in his gait, unsteady on his feet.” said Phil Lawler from “He has needed more frequent pauses for rest.” Nevertheless, “he has continued to keep a demanding schedule of meetings with his staff, with other bishops, and with visiting dignitaries; public and private audiences; writing and speaking; and even occasional trips abroad.”
Despite this, Junior Meredith Foy did not understand why the pope decided to retire, when no other modern pope has made that decision.

“He made a commitment,” Foy said. She believes that as pope he should be indebted to keep that commitment.

Dillabough thinks that USD’s Catholic roots should remain the same even with the pope’s resignation. He predicted that there will be no problems with this new transition.

“As a Catholic university, the expectations of how we live out our mission are already laid out in Church documents and the history of Catholic higher education,” Dillabough said. “The Pope’s resignation will more likely affect those with major positions in the Vatican.”

Dillabough suggested that the USD community find “some renewal of faith that the new Holy Father will engender as he begins his pontificate.” He said that the USD community should pray that the new Pope is a thoughtful one and that he addresses all concerns of the church.

Dillabough also suggested that this papal resignation provides an opportunity for the USD community and especially students.

“Look at the church in the world and…reflect on how it can live out the mission Christ has entrusted to it,” he said.

Pope Benedict’s resignation will take effect Feb. 28 of this year.