The Port Arthur News
With a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict VXI did what no pope has done in more than half a millennium, stunning the world by announcing his resignation Monday and leaving the already troubled Catholic Church to replace the leader for its 1 billion followers by Easter.
Closer to home, Bishop Curtis Guillory of the Diocese of Beaumont issued a statement regarding the monumental announcement.
“Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is a scholar and our pastor. His leadership these eight years was characterized by his love of the Catholic faith and being united with God in his ministry to the Catholic faithful worldwide,” Guillory said in a prepared statement. “He has always been a humble man who cares deeply for the Catholic Church. His ministry was not driven by self-interest but by his love of God. It was after much prayer and reflection that Pope Benedict came to the conclusion that he did not have the stamina to continue to care for the Church as he should and wanted to make sure the Church had someone in leadership who could do that. In his own statement, Pope Benedict said that he knows that strength of mind and body are necessary to proclaim the Gospel as he should and that his strength of body is diminishing.
The Pope’s announcement came just one day after Guillory marked the silver anniversary of his ordination as bishop.
Guillory met the Pope last March while he was in Rome for the ad limina visit, he said.
“When I met with Pope Benedict in the morning, he seemed strong, but in the afternoon meeting you could see he was frail,” he said.
The Pope’s announcement came as a shock even to those closest to him, according to the Associated Press.
“Without doubt this is a historic moment,” said Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, a protege and former theology student of Benedict’s who is considered a papal contender. “Right now, 1.2 billion Catholics the world over are holding their breath.”
The move allows for a fast-track conclave to elect a new pope, since the traditional nine days of mourning that would follow a pope’s death doesn’t have to be observed. It also gives the 85-year-old Benedict great sway over the choice of his successor. Though he will not himself vote, he has hand-picked the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect his successor — to guarantee his conservative legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.