Joseph E. Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, says he’s surprised by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign—a step not taken by a pope in centuries.
In a statement, Kurtz says:
I, along with all of the world, am surprised by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign as Holy Father at the end of this month. His statement refers to the strength that is necessary for one to serve as Pope, and, as he nears his 86th birthday, he speaks of his strength deteriorating and his wish to “…devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”
I have great love and esteem for our Holy Father Benedict and am touched by his humble admission of the strength necessary to carry on this ministry of Christ. This is a decision that reflects Pope Benedict’s stewardship of his office and is a sign of his deep humility.
As I pray for him and for his successor, it is with gratitude for the wonderful spiritual leadership that he has provided for the Catholic Church throughout the world over these eight years. Of course I recall with deep gratitude his appointment of me as Archbishop of Louisville almost six years ago and with deep affection the ad limina visit of January 2012 and the three-week Synod for the New Evangelization last October.
With Pope Benedict, I now call upon all the faithful to pray, both in gratitude for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and with special prayers to guide the Cardinals who will meet in Consistory immediately after February 28th to elect his successor. May Christ guide us, and may our Mother Mary intercede for us.