WASHINGTON – The announcement by Pope Benedict XVI today that he will resign over health issues – the first time a pope has resigned in 600 years – left American Catholic leaders stumbling for words.
“We are, of course, all surprised today by the announcement of the pope that he will resign at the end of the month,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
“Popes have the authority to do this, of course, though it has rarely been exercised.”
While speculation immediately was launched regarding a possible replacement, Pavone focused on what Benedict has done.
“We view the pope’s action here in a positive light, as an expression of his concern and love for the church. He wants the church to have a pope who can fulfill his role with the strength and vigor that the office requires,” said Pavone.
Pavone’s organization is the largest Catholic group dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia.
“My own interactions with Pope Benedict have been in the arena of his defense of human life, and we at Priests for Life thank him in particular for the ways in which he has continued to announce and implement the church’s pro-life teachings,” he said.
In an interview with WND, Pavone said the resignation was “an act of responsible leader.”
“He signaled to the church … that there is a great stability to the church. He has recalled this and that the teachings remain and has in a beautiful way articulated these positions.”
Pavone noted the church’s expansion in Africa and Latin America, a pursuit the new pope undoubtedly will continue.
He said, too, that a new pope will be “concerned more with the new evangelization” mission than the dynamics of any liberal-conservative tension.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue said the pope’s legacy is secure.
Benedict, he said, “made it clear that religious freedom was not only a God-given right, it was ‘the path to peace.'”
In a posted statement, the organization said Benedict’s “many references to what he called ‘the dictatorship of relativism’ were a constant reminder that one of the greatest threats to freedom today is the abandonment of the search for truth.”
The Catholic League noted the pope’s work on reaching out to non-members and his crackdown on priestly sexual abuse.
The pope’s “willingness to step aside comes as a surprise this Monday morning. What is not surprising is his humility,” the statement said. “Indeed, it is one of his most defining characteristics, one that separates him from today’s egocentric public figures.”
Benedict’s resignation letter said: ” After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
The author of “From Sabbath to Sunday” spent years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and explains the “political, social, pagan and Christian” factors that changed “a Holy Day into a holiday.”
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told CBS he was as startled as the rest of the world.
In a statement, Dolan said Benedict “unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church.”
“More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed.”
In a report in The Hill, House Speaker John Boehner said people were “inspired” by Benedict when he visited the U.S.
“The prayers and gratitude of American Catholics are with Pope Benedict XVI today,” he said. “The Holy Father’s decision displays extraordinary humility and love for the Church, two things that have been the hallmarks of his service.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, now chairman of Patriot Voices, said, “The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation comes as quite a surprise to Karen and me. We respect his decision and see it as an example of his great humility, spiritual leadership, and commitment to his faith. We pray for the church, St. Peter and all the Saints, for the church’s leadership, and for the faithful for the work they will do in the coming weeks to elect a new Pope. May God bless and keep Pope Benedict XVI.”
Health issues trigger decision to leave post this month ...more
Exclusive: David Rives notes 'big leap' necessary to push Creator out of the picture
Exclusive: Richard Rives notes tendency to attack the messenger for the message
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews revival minister Jamie Galloway
Exclusive: David Rives explains why Word of God stands forever
Exclusive: Richard Rives covers brief history of biblical mis-translations
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews cancer survivor, faith healer Dodie Osteen
Exclusive: David Rives wonders why it took so long for doctors to rediscover the obvious
Exclusive: Richard Rives warns about those whose livelihood is maintaining pagan practices
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews Heaven-visitors Kevin Zadai, Keith Ellis
Exclusive: David Rives asks, what will you discover today between covers of Scripture?
Exclusive: Richard Rives notes resemblance to fertility goddess Eostra's celebration
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews 'mom with a pastor's heart' Tahni Cullen
Exclusive: David Rives notes stars don't 'form,' they're 'revealed'
Exclusive: Richard Rives warns about 'abominable practices' of Easter
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews charismatic violist LaDonna Taylor
Exclusive: David Rives notes star formation not scientifically explainable without Deity
Exclusive: Richard Rives warns about satanic influences of pagan sun-worship
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews author, speaker, pastor Kynan Bridges
Majority view down through history pinpoints coming cataclysm
Exclusive: David Rives notes more geologists are realizing 'present is not key to the past'
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews charismatic healer Becky Dvorak
Exclusive: David Rives shows how rocks point to global catastrophe that radically changed the earth
Exclusive: Richard Rives reminds us sin is still the transgression of the law
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews evangelist Steve Stewart
Exclusive: David Rives recounts history of what made atheism respectable
Exclusive: Richard Rives warns against blending faith with pagan sun worship
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews trio of world-class prophets
Exclusive: David Rives notes difference between 'kind' and 'species'
Exclusive: Richard Rives warns us about redefining faith delivered to the saints
Exclusive: Sid Roth interviews pastor Steve Hannett