Rapid City Catholics reflect on Pope Benedict's tenure - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City Catholics reflect on Pope Benedict's tenure

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Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday morning he will step down as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of February.

He's the first pope to step down since the year 1415, and the first to do so voluntarily since 1294.

The reaction in KOTA Territory is mixed. Some expressed very little interest at all, but others remember fondly his time at the top.

"He's been inspiring in how he's taken on his role," said Rapid City Bishop Robert Gruss.
 
It's a role he began in 2005 at the age of 78.
 
"He was not, certainly, on the top list of candidates," Gruss said.
 
But, as the old adage goes, the Lord works in mysterious ways. 

"Somehow his name came forward."
 
During Pope Benedict's short tenure at the top, he appointed Gruss the Bishop of Rapid City.
 
"So I do have some connection," said Gruss, "a bond with him that I wouldn't otherwise."

The leader of the Catholic Church told the world Monday morning he would be stepping down from his post "due to an advanced age." He's 85.
 
"I do give Pope Benedict lots of credit at 85 years old and realizing his limitations," said Maureen French, a practicing Catholic in Rapid City.
 
That was a popular sentiment from commenters on our Facebook page: Several people called it a "responsible decision."
 
"I can't begin to imagine what he deals with on a daily basis," French said.
 
Others wrote God will continue to guide the chief shepherd of the church through his remaining years.
 
"I believe the Holy Spirit was part of that decision as well," said Gruss.
 
Despite controversies over same-sex marriage and sexual abuse scandals during his tenure, many reflect on Benedict's short papacy with respect.
 
"He came in, certainly, as a real academic," Gruss remembered, "but he showed the heart of a pastor."
 
"He was definitely a good shepherd of the church," added French. "Just standing for what the church has always believed in and saying, 'This is who we are.'"

The last time Gruss saw Pope Benedict was March 2012. At the time, he said the man looked tired and worn out.
 
Benedict will step down at the end of February. Then it will be up to the College of Cardinals to elect a new head of the church.

There's no set timeframe for just how long that could take, but it will likely be within a month or two.

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