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Southeast Missouri Reacts to Pope’s Resignation

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The Papal Visit
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Southeast Missouri’s Catholic community is reacting to the Pope’s recent announcement of resignation with practiced calm.

It was a highly shocking revelation. The Pope reportedly kept even his closest aides in the dark about his decision, so the news arrived as a blow to all. This is the first resignation of a Pope in over 600 years, though the ability has been available to all of them.

Nobody expected the change, though his reasoning, a decline in health, appears to be widely accepted. Father Patrick Nwokoye is the Chaplain of Southeast Missouri State University’s Newman Center. He thinks the Pope's resignation will have little impact.

“I think the Pope has accomplished a lot. His ministry first and foremost is to be the shepherd of the universal church and he has done that quite beautifully actually,” Nwokoye said.

However, Father Patrick didn’t offer any predictions on who the next Pope might be.

“I don’t think anybody could actually guess who the next Pope might be because this is not a lottery. Even a lottery you can guess,” Nwokoye said.

Father Patrick anticipates a new Pope will be elected soon.

Pope Benedict had hoped to bring a greater unity within the church, as well as greatly expand the Roman Catholic reach. A number of these goals will be left to his successor. The Vatican hopes to hold a conclave of cardinals to choose a new Pope before Easter.

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  • Citing his age (85) and diminished strength, the pontiff plans to step down effective Feb. 28. It's likely that a conclave to elect a new pope will be held by mid-March. A pope hasn't stepped down this way since 1415.