Fil Ams React To Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

by Ricky Rillera


JERSEY CITY –  Last week, 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation.  He said he would step down on Feb. 28 and plans to retreat to a life of prayer in a monastery behind the Vatican’s ancient walls.

Among the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics are Filipino Americans in the tri-state area who were just as shocked as those living in the Philippines, considered as the largest country in Asia with 85 percent of its population professing the Catholic faith.

Under Pope Benedict XVI’s watch, the second Filipino saint, San Jose Pedro Calungsod, was canonized. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle was also made cardinal.  Cardinal Tagle will be joining the conclave to elect and install a cardinal who will succeed Pope Benedict.  Closer to Filipino Americans in New York/New Jersey,  New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, is well-loved.   The next pope must get the votes of 2/3 of the cardinals in a conclave after Pope Benedict steps down.

Both Cardinals Tagle and Dolan are considered papabiles or potential popes from a short list of 14 cardinals around the world.

The views of a number of Filipinos in New Jersey and New York were solicited and fielded four questions for them to respond to.  These queries were:  (1) What do you think of Pope Benedict’s resignation?  (2) Who do you think should succeed him – a candidate from Asia (Cardinal Tagle-Philippines), from North America (Cardinal Doyle – NY) or someone else? (3) Should a Pope’s age be in the 50s or in the mid-60s or over?  (4) What do you think are the qualities required of a Pope at this time of age?

Eight unique responses from we considered as a cross-section of the Fil-Am community in New York and New Jersey, in terms of their gender,their age, profession and place of residence were selected.  Their responses to the four questions are  enumerated below.

Ledy Almadin
Jersey City

1.   It is sad to think that the Pope resigned but we can only trust and pray for him. It’s God’s will.

2.   I believe the Pope is the leader of evangelization; he can evangelize a lot of people with the word of God around the world.  Nationality should not be a factor of choosing the next Pope.

3.  60 and over will probably a good age considering having a good experience in his papacy.

4.  The Pope should be able to speak many kind languages and relate to every kind of people around the world.

Ludy Corrales
Basking Ridge, New Jersey

1. I think that the resignation of Pope Benedict is healthy for the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is bereft with a lot of issues and the head of the Church must be able to deal with all these issues worldwide.  So, to have an ailing Pope is ineffective.  Pope Benedict is truly serving the Catholic Church the righteous way by stepping down if he cannot execute his job properly.

2.  I am not too familiar with the Catholic Church leaders.  But I do not think Cardinal Tagle has a chance only because I feel that discrimination abounds in the selection of a leadership role in the Catholic Church.  Italy is not America.  Rome is not Washington DC.

3.  Age doesn’t matter.  As long as the Pope is healthy, strong, and his decision-making ability is not impaired, I have no problem with his age. 

4. The same qualities that they have always followed in the past.  But with a lot of issues facing the Catholic Church, in addition, the new Pope should possess an open mind, someone who listens and is able to analyze all the pros and cons of the issue at hand objectively.  The wisdom required of the Pope must be extraordinary because he is trying to protect the preservation of the old doctrine, yet he must also be attuned to the conditions of the present world.  The challenge to the new Pope is: with the vast material wealth of humanity right now, how can the Catholic Church be relevant so that many people, especially the youth, will be attracted and converted to join the Catholic Church?

Almor Dayaon
Flushing, New York

1.  I was both surprise and a bit disappointed. I thought Pope Benedict should have continued to be Pope despite any ailments he was having. Pope John Paul II continued to serve as Pope until  his death just like the Popes before him.  With Pope Benedict’s resigning, it made me think immediately there must have been some kind of scandal.

2. I think Cardinal Doyle would be an excellent choice for Pope.  He handled the transition coming from a low-key city Milwaukee to a high profile city of New York.  He is also is very good in front of the camera with the media and press, which will go a long way with all the appearances he will need to make.

3. A Pope’s age should be in the 50’s this way he’ll more then likely have a longer run as Pope as oppose to someone who’s older.

4.  I believe a Pope today be able to project the catholic values in a more modern way of looking at it.  I’ve noticed a lot of Catholics converting to other religions because they felt that catholic values were too old fashion for today’s world.    

Stevenson Derodar
New York City

1. I honestly think it is fine and appropriate. It is a  humbling experience; he just respected the capabilities of his physical body. You may not have everything in life but not health.

2. I believe there have been discussions about it in Manila suggesting the idea [for Cardinal Tagle] but for some reasons it is just impossible to happen as yet for a Filipino. The greater Catholic countries must have stronger candidates.

3. 60 and up I believe is perfect. As to requiring a gamut of experiences, 60+ would be a better age requirement . He should not to be very sickly and realistically capable in the continuum of his papacy.

4.One that can truly bring the message across the world and the spirituality that is bedrock.

Bel Molina
Astoria, New York

1.  I think it’s a sign of true leadership- recognizing when to step down or when to hand over the reigns.

2.  I do not think that it is a matter of the place of origin; I think it is about qualification.

3.  I do not think that age should matter.

4.  Someone traditional and prayerful; and one who has an excellent ability to both listen and communicate the truths of faith in an extremely diverse world.

Fiorell Salvo
Jersey City

1.  I suspect there might be some other reasons behind the resignation. But whatever is the real one, give him the peace of mind he needs. The Pope is as human as we are. Whatever the reason may be, let us just pray for Pope’s health and for God’s guidance for the College of Cardinals to select the best among them to head the Catholic Church.

2.  It is hard to read the minds of the “college”. In the list of the “who’s who”, there are 8 Italians, two Argentineans and one each from Canada, Ghana, US, Mexico and Australia. Our very own Cardinal Tagle is mentioned too. Whoever may be chosen though should not affect our spirit and devotion. No politics.

3.  60s or older.

4.  Someone who can understand the new world and who can face head-on the challenges of today: the growth of secularism in the richest and powerful countries; moral relativism; relations with Islam and other major world religions; the widening gap between the rich and poor, among others. In addition, someone who has a strong heart and a solid conviction.

Ed Toloza
Jersey City

1.  Selfless, running the Church requires a sound body and mind.

2.   I hope and pray that it should be Cardinal Tagle. Should that happen Filipinos all over the world, especially our OFWs, that no matter what type of work they do will be dignified and honorable. Such choice will give birth to a moral transformation to the Philippines.

3.  The younger the better, ideally 45-50s.                 

4.  Principled, reliance on the Bible, the basic foundation of Christian tenets.

Vivian Velasco
Jersey City

1.  Like all Catholics, it was a big shock learning of our Pope’s resignation; with such Holiness upon him, a Pope seemed invincible from abdication. It was something that took days to sink in and to accept. One wishes he could have stayed until Easter. Yet, he is but human, and with such humility and courage he faced the truth in the best interest of the Church and all the Catholics around the world.

2.  It is already such an honor for an Asian, a Filipino at that, (Cardinal Tagle) to be considered in the short list of possible successors (or one of the favorites) of Pope Benedict XVI; and a flattering news to hear that Cardinal Dolan is a big favorite of New Yorkers; but I will join in prayer for all the Cardinals who will be considered from Latin America, Africa, Canada (NA) or Asia and put our trust and faith in the Holy Spirit as the   Conclave picks the anointed successor.

3.  Mid-60s seems fitting – with long years of experience, and still have several years remaining to stay in good health to serve Roman Catholics and the Church.

4.   Wisdom, spirituality, humility, honesty, courage, sincerity; simplicity, gentleness and charisma; and conservative yet open-minded enough to deal with the changing society, needs, and norms; dynamic enough to give spiritual guidance and enlightenment to the youth.

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