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Yuma priests: Pope's retirement acknowledges he's human
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The retirement of Pope Benedict XVI will be an opportunity for renewal for the Roman Catholic Church when a new leader is chosen, said the pastor of Yuma's Immaculate Conception Parish.
It also shows that the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church is human, said Father Javier Perez.
Popes are held to a high standard, being expected to serve a lifetime commitment, Perez said.
“It's a profound message that the pope is trying to send, that sometimes we're unable to fulfill expectations” due to aging and illness, Perez said Tuesday.
“We have to recognize that we have limits.”
Benedict, 85, announced Monday that he would abdicate the papacy on Feb. 28 because he is too elderly and infirm, lacking the “strength of mind and body” for his position.
Retired Monsignor Richard O'Keeffe, pastor emeritus of Immaculate Conception, understands that everybody slows down with age. He retired from his post in 2010 at age 75, after serving here for 37 years, although he remains in Yuma.
O'Keeffe realized that he, too, didn't have the energy that he'd had just a few years prior. “You come to that realization,” he said.
He called Benedict a “brilliant” man and scholar of the church, although some people might not like his interpretation of doctrines.
“We continue to pray for the man,” O'Keeffe said. “He gave very good leadership.”
Benedict's papacy started in April 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. His retirement will be the first papal resignation in almost 600 years.
On Tuesday, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi revealed for the first time that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years and just had its battery replaced a few months ago.
With speculation swirling about the pope's future role, Lombardi explicitly stated that Benedict will not influence the election of his successor.
Although no date for a conclave to choose the next pope has been announced, it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter — March 31 this year.
Immediately after his resignation, Benedict will spend some time at the papal summer retreat south of Rome, where he has spent his summer vacations reading and writing. Lombardi said Benedict would eventually return to the Vatican and live at a monastery inside the Vatican gardens.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.