Mirroring sympathy expressed worldwide, Roman Catholics in metro Detroit responded Saturday with condolences for the death of the former pontiff Benedict.
On the website of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Allen Vigneron issued a statement, calling Benedict a “great gift” to Roman Catholicism.
Vigneron praised Benedict for “his penetrating intellect, his piety, his courage,” then added: “What resonates with me now is his profound humility and the gentleness with which he exercised his ministry.” The archbishop called on metro-Detroit’s Catholics to repay Benedict for his service “by praying fervently, that he may be welcomed quickly” into heaven.
Benedict avoided upstaging his successor, Pope Francis, by keeping an appropriately low profile in retirement, Vigneron went on to state.
“As Pope Emeritus, he spent much of his resignation away from the public eye, serving the Church through a life of prayer,” he said.
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Retired Wayne County Circuit Judge Richard Hathaway, who now serves as the county’s chief assistant prosecutor, comes from a family of stalwart Roman Catholics who regularly attend religious retreats. Hathaway and his wife are members of the congregation at Our Lady Star of the Sea church in Grosse Pointe Woods, and he graduated from Catholic Central High School, now in Novi but formerly located on Harper Avenue on Detroit’s east side.
Asked for a comment, Hathaway texted: “Pope Benedict as the leader of the Catholic Church was filled with love and compassion for all people throughout the world. That love and compassion is now eternal in the heavens.”
In Harper Woods, Tina Kirkman called Benedict “an amazing teacher and theologian.” Kirkman, a loyal and lifelong Roman Catholic, said she’d read several of Benedict’s books, after which she developed a greater appreciation for “the meaning and beauty” of the mass.
“I think his encouragement of the Latin mass introduced younger priests to this beautiful liturgy. It helps bridge the past to the future of the church. I will miss his clarity of thought and steadfast defense of the faith entrusted to his office,” Kirkman said.
Teresa Tomeo, a Catholic author in metro Detroit who is the host of “Catholic Connection,” which bills itself as broadcasting from more than 500 radio stations via the Ave Maria Radio network, also praised Pope Emeritus Benedict.
“For Catholics around the country and the world, the Pope Emeritus will be known for his consistent clarity and charity in teaching,” Tomeo said in a statement.
“He’ll also be admired greatly for his humility and courage in his decision to step down as pontiff, always putting the Church before his own desires and interests. I’ll never forget the great honor and blessing to be invited by his pontificate to serve as an American Catholic delegate as part of the international conference for women,” she said.
Cindy Stewart of Troy, who grew up in a staunchly Catholic household, said she wished to join others in expressing sympathy upon Benedict’s passing.
“He was a very good man and very intelligent. But he wasn’t my favorite pope because he was too conservative,” Stewart said.
Detroit Free Press Religion Writer Niraj Warikoo and Staff Writer Tresa Baldas contributed to this report.