46° F

Berks Catholics react to pope's departure

Published On: Feb 28 2013 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 01 2013 06:27:05 AM EST

Catholics in Berks County have been closely following the events unfolding in Rome.


Catholics in Berks County have been closely following the events unfolding in Rome.

Worshippers at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Reading said farewell to Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, and gave thanks for his eight years of service.

"It's a historic day for the whole, universal, Roman Catholic church," said Father George Winne, who lead worshippers in an all-Spanish mass Thursday night.

But many were also praying for an end to the scandals that have plagued some Berks County Catholic churches.

In 2009, Father Luis Bonilla was removed from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Reading after police say he admitted to an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old woman.

Father Cletus Onyegbule was removed from his post at St. Ignatius Loyola church in Spring Township after authorities said he impregnated an 18-year-old woman in the rectory at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bethlehem.

Authorities added that Father Onyegbule also paid for the abortion.

So Father Winne said the new pope must be strong spiritually.

"You know there are things in the church today, and you know there will probably be things a few years down the line," said Father Winne. "What is most important is he [the next pope] needs to be a man of faith that can lead and guide us in that faith that we need."

Worshippers also shared what characteristics they're looking for in a new pope.

"We need a new pope, you know what I mean, take care of the church, the community, the people, and help us wherever they can," said Hector Luna, parishioner at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church.

In just a few days, more than 100 specially selected cardinals from around the world will meet in Rome to select the new pope.