Pope’s call ‘courageous and correct’

ST BERNARD’S Batemans Bay parish priest Father Tom Thornton doesn’t envy who-

ever gets the job as Pope following the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to stand down.

“It would be a lousy job,” he said.

“I hope God gives grace 

to whoever gets it. The pay’s terrible.” 

The decision of the 85-year-old pontiff to stand down didn’t come as a shock to Father Thornton, even though it is the first time a pope has stood down in six centuries.

“I’m not surprised but I think it was a courageous decision,” he said.

“There is so little precedent for it. Popes don’t usually retire – God retires them. It is a very demanding job with a lot of work, especially with the dilemmas facing the church today. He feels he doesn’t have robust health to handle it. Pope John Paul II was not well for the last years of his papacy. It depends on the man.”

A conclave of cardinals will vote on the appointment of the next pope (Benedict XVI will stand down at the end of this month) but Father Tom has no idea who will get the nod.

“I haven’t a clue in the world, just another bloke. It will take prayer and time to decide.”

Father Tom believes his own archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn is an example of how the church as a whole will function just fine without a pope.

“We haven’t had a bishop for a year and are still going well,” he said.

Father Tom is confident the new man will be able to do the job, however tough it might be.

“There is always a lot of sin in humanity, which you can see by the sexual abuse issue in the church, but he will be walking with the Lord under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

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