Tyler cathedral bell tolls for 8 minutes to mark time of pontiff's resignation
Staff and Wire Reports
Catholics of all ages gathered at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Tyler at 1 p.m. Thursday -- the exact time when Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to resign -- to recognize the historic event.
"We relate to the pope not as employee and CEO, not as a stranger," Father Anthony McLau-gh-lin said at the prayer service. "It's much more familial. We call him the Holy Father. So this is bittersweet for us."
The cathedral bell rang for eight minutes -- a minute to recognize each year Benedict held the papacy.
"We thank God for his many years of service to the church," McLaughlin said. "By his humility, Pope Benedict teaches us that the papacy is not about power -- the papacy is about service."
Catholics who attended the service in Tyler said they were impressed at Benedict's willingness to resign and hoped the next pope would bring energy to the papacy.
"I haven't quite come to grips with a pope resigning," Dutch Schorr, church member, said. "I haven't quite wrapped my mind around it. I think in the times that we have now, we need an energetic pope. Certainly, I hope I'm as active as he (Benedict) is at 85, but I do think he's slowed down quite a bit."
Several members also commented that, while they are excited to have a new pope, they don't want to see whoever gets elected bring too many changes to the faith.
"I realize how blessed we are to have the tradition of the Roman Catholic religion," church member Cynthia Schorr said.
Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to resign Thursday, ending an eight-year pontificate shaped by struggles to move the church past sex abuse scandals and to reawaken Christianity in an indifferent world.
The pope's journey into retirement began with an emotional send-off from the Vatican, with Swiss Guards in full regalia and prelates kneeling to kiss Benedict's papal ring one last time. Benedict's closest aide wept by his side as they took their final walk down the marbled halls of the Apostolic Palace.
As bells tolled in St. Peter's and in church towers across Rome, Benedict flew by helicopter to the papal vacation retreat in Castel Gandolfo in the hills south of Rome, where he will spend the first two months of his retirement.
Benedict leaves behind a church in crisis, still coping with the fallout of the sex abuse scandals, a central Vatican administration torn by divisions, and what Benedict said was a crisis of faith, with baptized Catholics in places of ancient Christian tradition thinking they can do without God.
In his final public remarks as pope, Benedict pledged to continue working for the good of the church in his retirement. Arms raised, he told a packed piazza from the palace balcony that as of his retirement, "I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth."