Radio host Lino Rulli is known as the “Catholic Guy” to his Sirius XM listeners. When the news came Monday of Pope Benedict XVI’s abrupt resignation, he had to throw out his whole week of planned broadcasts.
He assured his audience during Monday’s show that it is okay to have mixed emotions about the news.
“We should be happy for him if this is truly the way the Holy Spirit is calling him to leave the Papacy,” Rulli said.
Now 41, Rulli was just six years old when Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, took over the Papacy.
"I want this Pope. I'd like John Paul II still, quite frankly,” Rulli said. “If I can't keep John Paul II, I want this Pope. I'm not ready mentally. I'm not ready spiritually for a new spiritual father.”
Father Louis Brusatti with St. Edward’s University says the last time a Pope resigned, more than 600 years ago, it was amid a major political struggle.
“There were, at the time, three people claiming to be the Bishop of Rome,” Brusatti said. “The compromise which led to the end of The Great Schism was to get the Pope to resign.”
Brusatti says being the Pope today is very different from just a century ago. He says the Catholic Church gained the world’s attention in the late 1950s under Pope John XXIII.
Five years later, Pope Paul VI was the first to travel the globe. Brusatti admires Pope Benedict’s admission that he can’t lead as effectively as he’d hoped.
“The humility to say, ‘It’s time for me to go, and it’s time to hand it over to somebody who can be more public, more out in the world,'” he said.
Rumors are already circling about who will be the next Pope and where he'll be from. The nomination process, known as the Conclave, cannot begin until Pope Benedict leaves office Feb 28.