CLEVELAND: Pope Benedict XVI will be held in high regard by members of Cleveland churches ordered reopened by the Vatican under his watch, lay leaders of spared congregations said Monday.
“The miracle of our reopening happened under his reign and we are very sorry to lose him and we will miss him,” said Miklos Peller of the Hungarian-language St. Emeric Church in Cleveland.
While the reopening decision came from a Vatican agency and not directly from Benedict, “I’m sure the pope may have inspired the cardinals in the congregation to come up with the right answer,” Peller said.
St. Emeric was one of 11 closed churches ordered reopened by the Vatican, which also overturned the merger of a 12th congregation. The pope’s portrait hangs in a vestibule of St. Emeric.
Patricia Schulte-Singleton, a leader in the drive to reopen St. Patrick Church in Cleveland, said she was sure Benedict had a hand in the decision.
“I’m sure he was aware of the closings and the decision by the Congregation for the Clergy to overturn the decision to close,” she said. “I’m sure there was some sort of input from him.”
The spared churches were among 50 closed or merged because of declining congregations, finances and priests. Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon announced last April that he would not challenge Vatican decrees declaring he failed to follow proper procedures in closing the parishes.
Lennon called the papal resignation a historic event motivated by love of the church.
“One of my fellow bishops had this reflection on today’s announcement which I would like to share,” Lennon said in a statement. “Most of us know in our own personal lives what it means to see a parent grow old and decline in ability. That is the sense we bring to this announcement by our spiritual father.”
In Dayton, a group of Catholic volunteers who work with victims of clergy sexual abuse said Benedict had done little to resolve the scandal.
“Pope Benedict took a few, tiny, window-dressing steps toward resolving the crisis,” the National Survivor Advocates Coalition said. “What’s needed now is true righteousness and courage to match the nobility of action that the survivors have brought forth from lives crucified by rape and sodomy by priests and nuns.”
In Cincinnati, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, who was appointed by Benedict, said the resignation reflected an unselfish attitude by the pope.
“In announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI has acted humbly and unselfishly for the good of the church. That same spirit has characterized his entire life of service,” Schnurr said in a statement.
“In my several encounters with him I found this brilliant theologian to be unfailingly kind, hospitable and welcoming.”