Catholic students at FHSU sound off on shakeup in the papacy
By LAURA CALVILLO-MARTINEZ
Special to The Hays Daily News
Student members of the Comeau Catholic Campus Center and its priest reacted this week to the news Pope Benedict XVI has resigned and shared their thoughts on who his successor should be.
On Feb. 11, Benedict announced his decision to resign from the papacy, citing his age and health. On Feb. 28, Benedict's time as pope came to an end; he became the first pontiff in six centuries to resign as the leader of the Catholic Church.
"When I heard the decision I was shocked," said Gentry Heimerman, a Fort Hays State University student who is a member of the Catholic Disciples student organization. "For me, it is very impressive because when you're the pope, you are at the top of the Catholic Church, and it's a very humble decision -- to take a step back and allow someone else to fill that role for the sake of the church."
Father Fred Gatschet said the announcement really didn't impact him.
"The guy is getting old," Gatschet said.
In Rome, cardinals are waiting for those last electors to arrive to decide when the conclave will begin and elect the new pope. According to CNN News, Catholic law says any adult Catholic male can be elected to the papacy. However, historically the cardinals have elected one of their own members.
Gatschet said he has not given much thought to who the new pope should be.
"I don't really care. I don't make the decision," he said, adding he has too many other things to worry about.
FHSU student Sydney Lower, also a member of Catholic Disciples, said, "I have no clue, I will let Jesus take care of that."
Heimerman said, "The word Catholic means universal," which means the intent of the church is to serve people worldwide. So, having a pope from one of the Americas "would be really interesting," he said.
"It would make it feel very close to home," Lower said.
Controversy has arisen over some cardinals shielding priests who have molested children. Former Cardinal Keith O'Brien from Great Britain, according to the New York Times, this week admitted his "sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of him as a priest, archbishop and cardinal." O'Brien will not participate in the conclave.
The question arising is, should cardinals involved in the molestation scandal be allowed to elect the pope?
"If I was to say no, I would be a hypocrite. We all sin," Lower said.
Heimerman said, "Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigned before they went to the conclave, so I think that is even one more aspect to show that that is not what the church is about. No doubt injustices have been done, no doubt. But the church certainly does not seek to prolong those injustices, so there is a big act of humbleness almost, just in him saying, 'I am not going to draw controversy, draw attention.' "
Laura Calvillo-Martinez, Dallas freshman, is a student at Fort Hays State University majoring in communication studies, with an emphasis in public relations.