Local pastors not surprised by papal announcement
By Gregg Rettig
Local pastors of Catholic churches in Madison County were not surprised by the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI plans to retire at the end of the month.
“I’m not surprised,” said Father Pat Toner, pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Plain City. “We were just talking Friday in our church history study group about the great schism and when there were multiple claimants to be pope.
“There was some speculation at the end of (Pope) John Paul’s (II) tenure that he might step down because of his health. He didn’t want to set a precedent, I guess. Benedict doesn’t seem to worry about that.”
Toner added that he believes the College of Cardinals will elect a new pope before Easter, which will be Sunday, March 31.
Father Mark Ghiloni, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in London, said he was and was not surprised by the announcement.
“It came as a bit of a shock,” Fr. Ghiloni said. “Then again, it’s been out there that this might happen because of his health and he has been looking so frail.
“I think it’s commendable that he put the good of the church ahead of himself.”