Pope Benedict XVI made a shocking announcement early this morning, announcing to the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world that he would be resigning from his post effective at the end of February.
The news came as a shock to many, but those in Southington weren't concerned about the decision, with one instead posting that the pope should be commended for his decision to resign.
"It took courage and a love of the office to resign when he felt he could no longer handle the job of Pope," wrote one resident on Southington Patch's Facebook page Monday morning.
The decision by the pope to resign is the first time in almost 600 years (598 to be exact - thanks Patch reader Bob Upson!) that the Catholic church has seen their highest leader step down from the position before death. The pope will resign officially on Feb. 28.
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According to an article from CNN.com, the decision to resign was made because the pope felt his physical health had deteriorated beyond the point where he could properly take on the responsibilities of being the pope:
"Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," the pope said, according to the Vatican.
Pope Benedict, 85, is expected to retire to a monastery and devote himself to a life of reflection and prayer, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman of the Vatican, said at a news conference. He will not be involved in selecting his successor.
Cardinals from around the world will meet immediately following his resignation and Lombardi said during the press conference that a new pope is expected before Easter.
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, who oversees Catholics in Litchfield, Hartford and New Haven counties, released the following regarding the pope's decision.
We voice our sentiments of gratitude, appreciation, respect, esteem and admiration for Pope Benedict XVI and his significant leadership as Pope since April 19, 2005. We have all been amazed at the very demanding schedule that he has kept over these years, from early morning to late at night. In his trips around the world, we were particularly impressed by his countless celebrations of Masses and other ceremonies; we heard the major speeches his gave; and we participated in the meetings he held with world leaders and people of every neighborhood.
This is a time that calls for the unification of all Catholics from around the world to pray for Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares for his resignation at the end of the month, and to ask our loving God to guide those electing a new Pope with strength, love and wisdom in their deliberations.
What do you think of Pope Benedict's decision to resign? Is he doing the right thing? Would you rather he held with tradition and remained in the position until death? Let us know in the comments section below.
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