Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese meets with reporters to discuss the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign Feb. 28.

Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese meets with reporters to discuss the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign Feb. 28.

Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese said he was surprised to read online this morning about Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign, and expressed “a sense of loss” over the announcement.

In a news conference Monday morning (Feb. 11) at the Catholic Center downtown, the bishop said he met with Pope Benedict a year ago at the Vatican in an ad limina visit, the periodic meetings bishops have with the pontiff to discuss the status of their dioceses. Blair said it was evident at the time that Pope Benedict “was already showing his age.”

[Read Bishop Blair's statement on Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.]

Still, the bishop said he was not expecting to see the news online this morning that the 85-year-old pope will resign Feb. 28 after nearly eight years in office. At age 78, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the oldest man to be elected pope in over 250 years.

Blair said the pope is “our spiritual 'Holy Father' with all that implies for our life of faith in Christ.”

He said Benedict “has fulfilled that role most admirably, with total dedication as a great pastor and teacher of the faith. Our profound gratitude and prayerful support will remain with him always.”

Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese said Pope Benedict was “showing his age” when he met him at the Vatican a year ago.

Blair, 63, said “now that the years have taken their toll, we do not begrudge him the repose he seeks for whatever time remains to him in this life. His resignation is itself a lesson in humility, courage and faith.”

He said he and the diocese will be praying for “guidance of the Holy Spirit in the election of a worthy successor.”

Blair said he had no thoughts on who the next pope might be nor what papal name Pope Benedict's successor might pick. He did say it would be a interesting if the next pope were to choose the name Sixtus, since there were five previous popes with that name and the next one's name would be a tongue twister: “Pope Sixtus the Sixth.”

2 Comments

  1. Two lines from Bishop Blair’s statement stood out for me. First was the ” sense of loss” over the announcement. What loss? I can’t recall anything important during his tenure. Second was Blair’s remark that he will be praying for “guidance of the Holy Spirit in the election of a worthy successor.” Worthy? I find it odd that he chose that adjective. Worthy as opposed to what?

    What I suspect is that the Toledo bishop, who leans quite far to the right, is hoping for another highly conservative person to lead the church. After all, it was Bishop Blair who warned priests in the diocese not to be seen at the ordination of Beverly Bingle, the first woman-priest, under penalty of having their mass privileges revoked.

    This fear, which runs coldly and deeply throughout the hierarchy of the church, is intense in the conservative wing of the institution. I find that same parallel in U.S. politics today in that the conservative right-wing clings tenaciously to the past in a quickly changing and evolving world.

    One might ask of the Toledo bishop how well he has presided over his flock? Are the churches that have not yet been shuttered full on Sunday mornings? Are the Catholic schools expanding? Is there a burgeoning set of catechumens lined up for entry into the church during Easter services?

    Finally, on another note, one might ask the Toledo bishop how that investigation of the nuns is coming along.

    • And now it looks like the current Pope has appointed him to a larger diocese.

      We simply do not accept that being orthodox, faithful to Catholic teaching is “leaning far right.” It is a ridiculous notion.

      Peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.