In response to Monday morning’s news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign effective Feb. 28, according to the Associated Press, Rev. David Dowdle of St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs said the papal decision was surprising, but highly admirable.
“I thought it was a very gracious thing for Benedict to do, to recognize his own aging and limitations,” Dowdle said. “Pope John Paul II gave great witness to his suffering and his illness, but for a number of years before he died, he was unable to make decisions and unable to process information …. I’m glad that Benedict saw that that’s not necessarily the best way of doing these things.”
“The fact that he cannot go on and had the courage to be able to step aside, it’s about time somebody did that,” Condon told the paper. “It’s an extremely demanding job and an extremely important job.”
Dowdle also added that he hopes that an upcoming conclave will consider selecting a pope from somewhere never before tapped for papacy, especially the “Deep South” like South America, southeast Asia and Africa.
The Archdiocese of Chicago also issued a statement, saying that Benedict “has, in all circumstances, placed the will of God for the good of the Church before every other consideration. That same resoluteness of purpose speaks in his statement announcing his resignation from the Chair of Peter.
“He has taught with clarity and charity what God has revealed to the world in Christ; he has handed on the apostolic faith; he has loved all of God’s people with all his heart. He has now shown great courage in deciding, after prayer and soul-searching, to resign his office at the end of this month.”
CNN reported that a spokesman for the pope did not give a reason for the decision, announced during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, but according to the AP, the 85-year-old pontiff cited his "advanced age and diminishing strength."
The decision makes Benedict the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, according to the AP report.
Born Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI was chosen in 2005 to succeed the late Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican could hold a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, according to the AP.
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