Local non-Catholic religious leaders show appreciation for pope emeritus

Metropolitan Nicholas visits the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament to preside with Archbishop Allen Vigneron on the Feast of St. Anne on July 26, 2012.

DETROIT — Catholics weren’t the only ones expressing appreciation for Pope Benedict XVI in the wake of his decision to resign the papacy.

Representatives of other Christian faith communities also had good things to say about the retiring pontiff.

Metropolitan Nicholas, the Troy-based Greek Orthodox archbishop, said the resignation was an occasion of sadness because of the “very good relations” between the Holy See and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople under Pope Benedict.

But he called the decision to resign on account of failing health “an act of courage and an act of absolute love for his Church.”

“In the Eastern Church, bishops do not normally retire, but as I look at my own work here, I can see a time when I could no longer carry on my duties,” Metropolitan Nicholas continued.

Lutheran Bishop Donald Kreiss said that, as a leader in ecumenical relations, “he did a fine job, following in Pope Johan Paul’s footsteps.”

“He had a willingness to engage in dialogue with people of other faith traditions, while remaining true to his own, in a time of incredible change and turmoil all across the religious landscape,” said Bishop Kreiss, bishop of the Southeast Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Rev. Steven Kelly, SSC, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Detroit, said he had been an admirer of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger writings even before the last papal election.

“Then, when he was elected, I thought it was really remarkable,” said Rev. Kelly, who is a prominent voice among traditionalist Anglicans in the area.

Whereas Blessed John Paul’s papacy was marked by the strong charism of the first Polish pope, he said Pope Benedict’s has been distinguished by his academic ability and support for restoration of traditional liturgy.

“His writings exhibit a depth of Biblical scholarship, and he has an ability to explain Church doctrine very clearly. His book on the Creed was just incredible,” Rev. Kelly continued.

“And while it causes some sadness that about 10 of my priest friends have left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican ordinariate Pope Benedict established, it has been a great gift for those who no longer felt welcome in our denomination,” he said.

Pope Benedict’s resignation does, however, introduce a situation that is new to the Catholic Church in modern times, he continued: “Now, if an older pope is elected, the speculation will begin immediately about when he will retire, and the situation could develop where several emeritus popes would be living,” he added.

Rev. Marsha Foster Boyd, Ph.D., president of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, praised Pope Benedict’s decision to retire as pope “

“The fact that an 85-year-old says, ‘I have done what I can do, the Church will go on,’ sets a model for leadership. Wisdom says it is good to recognize when our time is over,” she said, adding, “In the Methodist denominations, bishops serve for a limited time. They’re always bishops, but they retire from administration.”