Pope resignation impacts Baton Rouge Catholics
BATON ROUGE - At 1 p.m. Central time Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI resigned in Rome as leader of the Catholic Church, a rare move which also had an impact in Baton Rouge.
"He's been a wonderful inspiration," Catholic Minister Ellen Smith said.
She along with four other sat in a small room at the Catholic Presbyterian apartments and watched the Pope step aside due to his fading health.
"It is a blessing that he's giving up his position because he can no longer handle it," Smith said. "Not many people would probably do that."
"They haven't had a pope to resign in 600 years," Catholic believer Betty Allen said. "So that's making history...I probably won't see it again in my lifetime."
Baton Rouge area also has a connection with the resigning pope. As a young man studying in rome, Our Lady of Mercy Father Miles Walsh would often cross paths with Pope Benedict.
"I would often see him crossing the piazza, the Saint Peter's Square, twice-a-day," Father Walsh said.
He believes even with only an eight-year reign, Pope Benedict left an important mark.
Whoever takes his place must deal with the church's ongoing controversy and bring more believers to the Catholic faith, he said.
"The main task of the new holy father is to spearhead that new evangelization, lead hopefully in the way of introducing more to Jesus Christ who don't know him."