Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world today when he announced he will step down at the end of this month.
Benedict was elected Pope in April of 2005, succeeding the late Pope John Paul II.
Now, the 85-year-old Pontiff says he no longer has the mental and physical strength to cope with the demands of leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
His health has noticeably deteriorated in the past few months, leaving him looking frail and using a cane. But a Vatican spokesman insists the Pope’s decision was not based on illness.
WGN spoke with parishioners outside Holy Name Cathedral this morning, after Benedict made the the announcement at a meeting of Cardinals in Rome.
“I feel bad that he has come to ths decision, but I know that he prayed over it and that it’s something that he felt is best for the flock,” one parishioner said.
“I thought it was great that he’s acknowledging that it’s time for him to go and that someone else should step up,” said another parishioner.
Francis Cardinal George issued a statement: “Pope Benedict XVI 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.”
The Cardinal goes on to say, “We ask the Lord to bless him and give him strength, as we begin to pray now for the one who will succeed him as Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.”