Chicago Catholics mourn Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, ‘a defender of the faith’

The 95-year-old German theologian, who served as pope for eight years, is most remembered for being the first to resign from the job in 600 years.

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A framed photo of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died Saturday, is displayed near the altar at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.

A framed photo of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died Saturday, is displayed near the altar at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

After hearing the news that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had died, mourners gathered to pray and reflect on his legacy at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood Saturday morning.

Tereasa McGuire, a visitor from West Ireland, described herself as an “à la carte Catholic,” who didn’t always agree with Benedict’s conservative and traditionalist views on Catholicism. But she admired his intelligence, devotion and deep knowledge of the faith.

“Even though I disagreed with him, I admire him for being a defender of the faith and his commitment to the tenets of truth,” McGuire said. “He had a sharp brain and an acute awareness and understanding of canon, far beyond what us mere mortals can comprehend.”

The Catholic Church lost a great leader, McGuire said, even though the pomp and glory of the papacy wasn’t for him.

Tereasa McGuire, a tourist from Ireland who works as a death doula, tears up while speaking about Pope Benedict XVI, who passed away Saturday, at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. McGuire said she admired him for his tenacity and his death marks “the end of an era.”

Tereasa McGuire, a tourist from Ireland who works as a death doula, tears up while speaking about Pope Benedict XVI, who passed away Saturday, at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. McGuire said she admired him for his tenacity and his death marks “the end of an era.”

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

McGuire works as a death doula, assisting people who are close to death in any way they need. She’s there to help them with any unfinished business or to just be someone to vent to, cry with or reflect on life and death.

“It’s a sacred privilege to be there for people in this way,” she said. “I hope he [Benedict] had someone good with him.”

Daisy Bermier said she admired his unwavering faith and strict following of the teachings of Jesus.

“I will remember the greatness of Benedict, his teachings, his writings on the fundamentals of Catholicism. I know he will be in heaven leading us. May he rest in peace,” she said, tears filling her eyes.

Daisy Bermier (left) sits on a church pew after speaking to a reporter about Pope Benedict XVI, who passed away Saturday, at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.

Daisy Bermier (left) sits on a church pew after speaking to a reporter about Pope Benedict XVI, who passed away Saturday, at Holy Name Cathedral in the River North neighborhood, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Lidya Hermez George, weaving a rosary between her hands, remembered Benedict not only for his time as a pope, but his devotion to studying Catholicism throughout his life.

“He was a great pope, though I think what he loved most was being a theologist,” she said.

She was young when he was elected in 2005, but she remembers sitting with her family and watching on TV as white smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

“I know it was a big deal when he resigned, but his legacy is beyond that,” Hermez George said.

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a statement that Benedict “showed us what it means to fulfill the ancient command to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, right, pictured embracing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI alongside Pope Francis.

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich (far right) pictured embracing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI alongside Pope Francis.

Provided by Vatican Media

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