It’s not often a decision can rightly be considered both “bold” and “humble,” but that’s how Father Arnold Colletti described Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign the papacy at the end of the month.
Three months past his own retirement age, Colletti, 78, said he can understand the decision by Benedict, who is 86, to resign the papacy due to his age and diminishing energy. With that being said, the unprecedented move has Colletti—who is appointed for a year at a time to his position as pastor of the Sacred Heart and St. Brigid parishes in Lexington—wishing he was three decades younger.
“It’s exciting,” said Colletti. “I told Cardinal Sean O’Malley I wish I was 30 years younger because I feel there is something exciting coming on.”
That’s not to say Colletti was not a supporter of Benedict, whom he and others have described as a more scholarly than pastoral head of the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, Colletti said the resignation could be a sign that the Church is ready to modernize at a time when values around sex and marriage have become divisive, hot-button issues.
Colletti pointed to the words of the Italian Cardinal Carlo Martine, who before his recent death said the Church was “200 years behind," and said Benedict, due to his age and conservatism, may not have been equipped to lead a moral modernization.
Expectations are for the Vatican to summon a conclave of cardinals in a few weeks. A conclave is the process used to elect the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
In addition to being the first pope to resign in 600 years, Benedict, who was 78 at the time of his election, was the oldest newly elected pope in three centuries. The leadup to the conclave is expected to feature considerable politicking, but if Colletti had his druthers the Church's next elected leader would be younger, and “from south of the equator," specifically, from South America or Africa.
“I think people are praying for the present pope and for the election,” Colletti said. “I would like to have someone who will move the Church ahead. I think that something great is going to be coming on, and I think the Church ought to take a key role in society and getting back to morals.”