Local church leaders react to Pope's retirement - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local church leaders react to Pope's retirement

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ROTHSCHILD (WAOW) -

Pope Benedict the 16th's historic resignation drew the attention of the entire world, including in central Wisconsin.

"Pope Benedict, in his own way, has moved in a number of ways that have been surprises to all of us," said Rev. Allan Slowiak of St. Mark Catholic Parish in Rothschild. "So in that sense, he was in form, and he left in good form."

Slowiak says he respects the Pope's decision.

"I think it's admirable that's he's able to be able to say at this age that he can't handle the duties any longer, and being able to retire and use the rest of his years as he sees fit."

But it's a surprising move. It's been 600 years since a pope has retired.

"You get this idea that once you are ordained it's a situation that you have to function all the years of your life," said Slowiak. "And that really has been the case for priests until maybe 50 years ago when the concept of retiring and having the time to do what you want finally was, I guess, permissible."

And now Pope Benedict has shown even the highest leader in the church can step down.

"The church has changed radically, where back even 50 years ago, or 100 years ago," said Slowiak. "I don't think the amount of intensity of work probably was as much as it was."

Slowiak has been ordained for more than 35 years, and while he's not ready for retirement yet, he understands the gravity of such a goodbye.

"It's a way of life, and I think that's an important concept to keep in mind," said Slowiak. "In our tradition, priesthood is not a career, it's a commitment to a way of life."

No doubt church leaders will keep that in mind as they elect the next pope.

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