Catholic knight, Dr. David Mueckl
, reacts to Pope's resignation
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Dr. David Mueckl's title in St. Louis is Chief Operating Officer, Archdiocese of St. Louis.
wears another hat.
His title in the Roman Catholic Church is Sir David Mueckl, Knight Commander with Star.
That's because Mueckl
was honored by Pope Benedict XVI in April of 2009 for years of service to the Vatican
That service has three parts.
He is Consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, member of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and consultant to the Holy See.
In short, Mueckl
knows the Pope, who announced his
, too, was surprised.
"Surprised like everyone else but in the past year in the amount of times I have seen him one cannot help but notice his
frailty and difficulty in carrying out his
responsibilities," said Mueckl
"In a way we're all shocked, but on the other hand it was probably one of the most heroic actions I've seen in recent times because the Holy Father is truly giving himself up for the good of the church so a new Successor of Peter can be named to lead us through the next few years."
started getting tipped off that something was up hours before the announcement came early Monday.
"I actually had no official advance notice of this," said Mueckl
said Pope Benedict's abdication is not completely without notice.
"Well as everyone is talking about today the Holy Father indicated a number of years ago that if he
could not carry out his
responsibility because of his
age or health that he
certainly would resign and would have no qualms about that.
So I think he's
a man for his
word and now is the right time for him to hand off the keys to the chair of Peter."
roles as a consultant, Mueckl
had occasion to get to know the man Catholics refer to as the Holy Father.
"I would take part in monthly meetings and budgetary meetings," said Mueckl
, "just to make sure everything is on track.
And I would have the occasion as the chair of a subcommittee to meet with the Holy Father about every other month.
So I was fortunate enough to get to see him 24-25 times during my service on the economic affairs council."
Regarding his knighthood, Mueckl said, "The Holy Father, because of my work at the Vatican for nearly seven years, and his gratitude for me staying another year on the economic affairs council, did name me a Knight of St. Gregory, which I am told is still the highest honor a lay person can receive in modern times.
I was quite honored by that, the Archdiocese was quite honored by that.
At my rank there are only 22 knights worldwide.
And I am the youngest."
was asked about the protocol for naming a new pope.
"Well that's the beautiful thing," he
is sad to see this Holy Father go.
"In a certain sense I was lucky enough to be in Rome for the last public audience of Pope John Paul II.
And a week later, ten days later, he
And now to witness another historic moment in the life of the church it really is kind of a grace-filled moment for us all."
said the balloting and meetings of the College of Cardinals
will take place in the Sistine Chapel
"I'm sure within a matter of weeks the Sistine Chapel
will be closed and they will begin the preparations for a conclave."
commented on speculation about who might be the new pope.
"You hear all these terms about being 'papable,' no one really knows," he
"It is by faith we believe divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.
You here names, circumstances, but one truly does not know until we see that white smoke."
Regarding St. Louis speculation that native son Cardinal Timothy Dolan, of New York, might be in the running, Mueckl
said Dolan has as good a chance as any of the other candidates.
has heard the guessing games.
said this is a significant moment for the Catholic Church.
"As much as people are kind of anxious about what will happen," he
said, "this Holy Father has done wonderful work for the church.