After this morning's announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month some locals are stunned by the 85-year-old's decision.
“When I got the text this morning I was very much shocked and surprised,” said Father Matthew Fernan of St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in Hastings-on-Hudson.
Pope Benedict XVI, who will resign on Feb. 28, is the first Pope to resign in the past 600 years. The Pope told the cardinals on Monday of his decision (click on the YouTube video for an audio transcript and video of his announcement.)
"I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering,” said the Pope Monday.
Pope Benedict XVI said he is resigning "because of advanced age," and that someone of sound “strength of mind and body” would be better suited to fulfill the position
“I’ve come to realize the great humility of the man in this situation,” said Fernan. “It’s really a very important lesson for all of us to see. It’s God’s church, not the Pope Benedict’s church, it’s not my church, or anyone else’s—it’s God’s church and he’s in charge. To say I can’t do this anymore, it’s a humbling position and I find it quite edifying at the same time.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement this morning:
"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with his God in all he did," Dolan stated. "His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter."
According to The Huffington Post, the Vatican will hold its conclave to elect a new pope in mid-March when all cardinals under the age of 80 will vote in a secret meeting at the Sistine Chapel. After the ballots are cast they are burned. If there's black smoke that rises for the public to see, no pope as been elected, whille white smoke means someone has been chosen.
The Huffington Post lists Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's office for bishops as possible contenders for the papal position.
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