LITTLE ROCK-- Local Bishop resonds to Pope's sudden resignation. Read full statements from Bishop and a local church below:
"Diocese of Little Rock
Office of the Bishop
2500 N. Tyler St. / Little Rock AR 72207
501-664-0340 / fax 501-664-1310
For Immediate Release Contact: Dennis Lee
February 11, 2013 Chancellor for Administrative Affairs
Statement from Bishop Anthony B. Taylor
Regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
Although I am saddened by today's news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI for the reason of the enfeeblement of old age, I note that this is one more example of Pope Benedict's profound humility and love for the Church which he has evidenced so clearly throughout his eight years as pope.
I shall always be grateful to him for the warmth with which he received me on several occasions in Rome, including during my ad limina visit in March of last year. I was privileged to celebrate Mass with him in Washington during his visit to the United States in 2008, only five days after the public announcement that he had named me to be the next bishop of Little Rock. Indeed the announcement was timed so that I could be present.
Despite being already 78 years of age when he was elected, Pope Benedict maintained a schedule that would be daunting for a man half his age, but he was determined not to allow his physical weakness to prevent him from reaching out with pastoral care to address the needs and hopes and pain of so many in the world today, regardless of religion or nationality. He reached out with special solicitude to the beleaguered people of the Middle East, to those living in abject poverty throughout the world and to the youth. He proclaimed the Gospel of Life eloquently and insistently and warned us of the dictatorship of relativism in which eternal truths are rejected as being just one opinion among many.
He reached out patiently to Catholics alienated from the Church, he worked hard to open the eyes of those who had fallen into doctrinal errors, and he proclaimed the primacy of charity as fundamental to the mission of the Church. He called for a more equitable sharing of the world's resources, relief for nations floundering under the burden of inherited international debts that exceeded their ability to repay and greater respect for the environment.
And in all of this he invited people to a personal, saving encounter with Jesus Christ and the good news that -- in Jesus -- God has intervened in human history to set us free from the power of sin and death, from all the evils that enslave us.
Our next pope has big shoes to fill as did Pope Benedict when he succeeded Pope John Paul II. Let us pray for the College of Cardinals, that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they will choose for us a worthy successor well equipped to address the complex challenges we face in the world today."
Statement from local Church:
"Dear Parishioners and Friends, there is ONE item on this Grapevine:
Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
11 February 2013
Fr. John K. Antony
Catholics woke up to the surprising news that Pope Benedict XVI announced his impeding resignation, effective February 28, 2013. While the announcement is surprising, it is not unheard of. Our collective Catholic memory will remind us that the last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, in 1415. Since then, popes have served in office until God called them home. We all recall fondly the courageous conclusion of the life of Blessed John Paul II. Catholics don't typically view the papacy as a "job" but rather as a vocation, a calling from God, like the vocation (not occupation) to be a mother or father. Indeed, the most common address for the pope by Catholics is "Holy Father." This is why for some Catholics the notion of "resignation" will seem to clash with the notion of "fatherhood." Nevertheless, resignation for the pope is clearly a Catholic concept, since canon law expressly provides for such a possibility, requiring only that the resignation be "freely made and properly manifested." The Holy Father did that yesterday.
The Holy Father explained his reasons, saying, "In today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both 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." I deeply respect and admire our Holy Father, no less now than in the last 8 years of his papacy. He is my Holy Father.
What will happen next? Shortly after February 28, there will be a "consistory of cardinals," a meeting of all the cardinals of the Church. Typically - although not necessarily - the cardinals will elect one of their own number to be the next pope. There are currently 125 cardinals throughout the world; 15 from the United States. In order to be elected - sometimes called being "papabili" - a cardinal needs to be less than 80 years old. There will immediately be media frenzy surrounding all the papabili, if there isn't already.
What should characterize a Catholic's attitude in this time of transition? It's what should characterize a Catholic at all times: an attitude of peace and a spirit of prayer. Why? Because the One who is guiding the Church - from the day of Pentecost, when the Church was born, till the glorious return of her Savior - is the Holy Spirit. That's how Jesus comforted His disciples during the Last Supper before His own impending departure. He said, "Do not let your hearts be trouble...I will ask the Father and He will send you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to be with you always" (John 14:16). So, don't worry, the Holy Spirit is still driving the bus. But that's doesn't mean we can fall asleep, either! We must pray! Pray for our present Holy Father, and for his successor. I especially urge praying the rosary. When the rosary is prayed in common, a special, partial indulgence is granted to those who pray for the health, protection and intentions of the pope. Now, we can add his successor to our list of intentions.
No time of transition is easy, not for anyone. I cannot imagine how hard this decision was for our Holy Father. He understands better than anyone that God called him to be the pope. What he needs from us right now is our care and concern, not our criticism and complaints. Change always carries in its wake uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and sometimes even anger and recriminations, and always lurking close by is that all-too-human temptation of lust for power. This becomes more true the higher the level of leadership. So pray for the Church, pray for the cardinals, and pray for yourselves, that we experience another Pentecost, another outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church and on our world in the transition to the next Holy Father.
Jesus said, "The Advocate, the holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name - he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (John 14: 24-27). An attitude of peace and a spirit of prayer.
There will be a lot of media attention directed toward Catholics as a result of this announcement. Prayerfully consider what you say through the press and to the world about your Catholic faith and the Church we love so dearly. May these thoughts and the Holy Spirit guide your response.
For the grapevine to work effectively, I ask you to pass it on to any and all who you believe would benefit from its message."
Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation of the seat on Monday morning.
The Vatican Radio Station did release this statement from the Pope.
"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."
Former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected in 2005.
The last resignation from the papacy are not unheard of, however this is the first one in the modern era.
The now 85-year-old became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005 following the death of John Paul II.
Here's the full text of the statement from the Vatican radio station.