Charles J. Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, released this statement on Monday after Pope Benedict XVI announced he would resign the papacy.
“From his work as a young theologian at Vatican II to his ministry as universal pastor of the Church, Joseph Ratzinger has served God and the global Christian community with intelligence, eloquence and extraordinary self-sacrifice.
“As Pope Benedict XVI, he has led God’s people through complicated times with uncommon grace, and his stepping down now, at 85, from the burdens of his office is another sign of his placing the needs of the Church above his own. Catholics worldwide owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He will remain in our hearts and always be in our prayers.”
Benedict said he made the decision, effective Feb. 28, because of frailty due to his advanced age. He will become the first pope in six centuries to resign.
Retired Philadelphia Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, 78, is among the 117 cardinals worldwide who will be eligible to attend a conclave at the Vatican and vote to select the next pope. To vote, Cardinals must be under the age of 80 when the papal seat is vacated. ••