While managing a youth center as a seminarian in Rome more than 20 years ago, Father Milota of Saints Peter and Paul, met Pope Benedict, who was a cardinal at the time.
“He was just a very compassionate, loving man, whose faith was incredibly important to him,” he said.
Naperville resident Liz Michalski has also met the pope – she was one of 50 members of the diocese of Joliet to see him in New York when he visited the U.S. in 2008.
“The holy aura that he projected – I didn’t expect to feel that but I could prove just by being in his presence that he is a deeply spiritual man,” she said.
Now the pope with his current health conditions says it’s best for a successor to guide the world’s one billion Catholics.
“He’s a wonderful man” said Dick Pugliese of Naperville. “We’re really going to miss him and I think he made the right decision if his health isn’t sufficient.”
“Here is the pope, saying ‘You know, it’s time to let someone for the good of the church, manage the church’ so I kind of admire that humility and that also fits well into the Lenten theme,” said Father Milota.
During his tenure, the pope and the Catholic Church faced a number of issues that have undermined the church’s credibility.
“Keeping our flock and keeping our retention in the Catholic Church,” said Michalski. “I think our about biggest concern among our flock is the sexual abuse – how to handle it. I think they could do a better job.”
So who will be that next leader to move the church forward once pope benedict leaves the Vatican?
“I think what we look for is someone that I hope will carry on the same wisdom and courage that he has shown,” said Naperville resident Dee Pugliese.
“I don’t know who the next pope will be. Whoever it is will be the choice of the Holy Spirit and be the best thing for the church,” said Father Milota.
Pope benedict will continue carrying out his duties until February 28th. Vatican officials hope to then have a new pope in place by Easter Sunday.
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