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New Brunswick Pastor, Diocese React to Pope's Resignation

Diocese of Metuchen expresses shock, says the 85-year-old pope is a man of "Great humility and dedication."

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has captured eyes worldwide, as the head of the Catholic church claims that his health is preventing him from fulfilling his duties as pontiff. 

Benedict is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years. He will step down from his position as the head of the Catholic church on Feb. 28.

In New Brunswick, Msgr. Joseph Kerrigan of Sacred Heart Parish said the pope's resignation can serve as a teaching moment. 

"Especially for those who think that hanging on until the absolute end is always the best," he said.

Kerrigan said Benedict was able to overcome setbacks following his succession of well-known pope John Paul II. 

"Its hard to consider the end of Benedict's papacy without recalling the beginning. Benedict became pope in the aftermath of John Paul II's diminishment playing itself out to the end," he said. "John Paul had a series of setbacks over years, and reacted as his health permitted, still as pope. Benedict appears to have gotten ahead of that downward spiral, showing that in diminishment you can still take initiative. There's value to all of us in both approaches. Sometimes you need to let things happen, other times you have to make it happen, even in matters of your own career."

On Monday, the Diocese of Metuchen released a statement from Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, expressing shock but also faith that Benedict was doing what it best for the Catholic church.

"It is not a complete surprise...that this man of great humility and dedication would recognize his inability to carry out fully the duties his office requires and would put first what ultimately is best for the Catholic Church and its members.  I ask all to join me in praying for the Holy Father and for the College of Cardinals which will elect his successor," Bootkoski said.

The Diocese of Metuchen will hold a mass in honor of the pope at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, 32 Elm Ave. in Metuchen.

The mass is open to the public.

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