Bishop and Theology professor weigh in on future of the church - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Bishop and Theology professor weigh in on future of the church

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Not since Gregory the XII in 1415 has the head of the Catholic Church resigned. The news came as a shock to high ranking members of the church.

Speculation has already started of who will replace Pope Benedict XVI. Among the front-runners are Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria.

Here in Sioux Falls, people we talked with are still processing the historic decision. Bishop Paul Swain started off his week with some news he never expected to hear.

"The holy spirit which guided his election in 2005 guided his decision now and will guide the decision of his successor," Bishop Paul Swain said.

At the University of Sioux Falls, one Theology professor also in shock. This is the first Pope to resign in 600 years.

"It's definitely a huge moment in history, this doesn't happen very often," USF Associate Professor Dr. Christina Hitchcock said. "The Pope is a symbol of Christianity around the world, whether you're Catholic or not, but of constancy of Christianity in the church."

But now, because of this move, she wonders what the Church will do next.

"This is clearly one of those moments where you say here's an event, how is the church going to respond, what is the church going to look like in response to this. I have no idea but it will be interesting to find out," Dr. Hitchcock said.

We know a new Pope is in the near future and if Bishop Swain had his say, this is what he'd want.

"A man of God, who loves the Church, loves everyone and encourages and gives hope with all the challenges in our world. There are many among the Cardinals who can offer that," Bishop Swain said.

Read the Bishop's full statement below:

"It is with sadness yet with gratitude that I acknowledge the decision by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to resign from office. The Holy Spirit, who guided his election in 2005, surely has guided his decision now, and will guide the election of his successor.

A teacher at heart, Pope Benedict XVI has, through written and spoken word, but especially by faithful witness, taught us to contemplate the higher things and to defend truth. He has always done so with integrity, humility and a special love for those most vulnerable. His courageous act today is but another example of his having the heart of a gentle shepherd protecting his flock.

I am especially grateful to him for having appointed me as Bishop of Sioux Falls. On behalf of all the faithful of our diocese we wish His Holiness a prayerful and peaceful retirement. Our prayer for him in the days ahead is that offered at the ordination of a bishop: May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment."

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