Young Cincinnati Catholic experiencing Rome during historic time
By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph
While the historic implications of Pope Benedict XVI‘s resignation will be debated for decades at least, one can wonder if today’s Catholic youth understand the magnitude of the situation.
While he can’t speak for all youth, 21-year-old Quinn Patterson, a member of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenhills currently studying abroad in Rome, said his peers do seem to “get it.”
Patterson is studying economics and music at Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center on Monte Mario, about 15 minutes northwest of the Vatican by bus. When asked about his peers’ reaction to the surprise announcement Feb. 11 that the pope would resign, Patterson said their reactions varied.
“It seems that many of my classmates who aren’t Catholic are completely confused about the process of papal resignation, the election and so forth,” he said. “Also, I’ve heard discussions of why Benedict is stepping down, and theories of scandal, but in general, it seems that most view it as an unselfish transfer of power, and are excited to be around such a historical event.”
Patterson started his Feb. 11 like any other Monday, heading to philosophy class. There was a buzz about the classroom, and then the professor announced the news.
“After the shock set in, it seems like mostly a general feeling of admiration,” Patterson said. “He didn’t follow the deeply ingrained precedent because he didn’t feel physically capable of such a demanding leadership role because of age, and I think that’s very admirable.”
Describing himself as a monthly Mass-goer who prays often and enjoys faith discussions, Patterson said the news and ensuring conversations have provided an opportunity for him to teach non-Catholics about the faith.
“I was actually very surprised at how little many other faiths, especially Christian faiths, knew about Catholicism,” he said. “In these discussions though, it rarely seems like a debate of which practices are correct, but more often seems like a question and answer session. It seems also (and this has been an awesome thing to be a part of) that with these people of other religions, our discussions have led to a lot more similarities than differences, and agreements (rather) than disagreements.”
Patterson said that Italian youth are much like those his age in America, with many young people not frequently attending Mass. Still, being in the city where the Catholic faith is headquartered appears to have inspired him.
“Many grew up going to church every Sunday just as in America, and there seems to be a similar division between those my age who still practice regularly, those who consider themselves spiritual but don’t go to mass often, and those who don’t see religion at all as a major part of their daily life anymore,” he said. “As for the Catholics amongst my classmates, I would say I’m about average in my practices. Many go more often than myself, and many go less often. Being in Rome I think may have inspired me to start going more often. It’s a new experience here.”
While the St. Xavier High School graduate expressed admiration for Pope Benedict XVI, he did speculate that the next pope might not reflect all of his views.
“I do find a certain saying in Rome pretty interesting,” he said. “I don’t quite know the Italians (say it), but it translates to “after a fat pope, a lean pope,” meaning that there has been a tendency for popes to differ from their predecessors. I wonder if since Benedict was very traditional, the newly elected ope will be more modern.”