CHICAGO (CBS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down has surprised many Catholics around the world, including church leadership in Chicago.
Chicago Archdiocese representatives told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine they were not given any advance warning of the pope’s resignation, even though Cardinal Francis George was in the Vatican for meetings last week.
The archdiocese was not informed of the pope’s plan to resign until early Monday, when it was publicly announced.
In a written statement, Cardinal Francis George said, “Pope Benedict XVI has, in all circumstances, placed the will of God for the good of the Church before every other consideration. That same resoluteness of purpose speaks in his statement announcing his resignation from the Chair of Peter.
“He has taught with clarity and charity what God has revealed to the world in Christ; he has handed on the apostolic faith; he has loved all of God’s people with all his heart. He has now shown great courage in deciding, after prayer and soul-searching, to resign his office at the end of this month.
“With the gratitude of sons and daughters in our hearts, we ask the Lord to bless him and give him strength, as we begin to pray now for the one who will succeed him as Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.”
George will be able to vote in the conclave to select the next pope. Cardinals are required to submit their resignation when they turn 75, which George did last year, but they’re able to vote for pope until they turn 80, and it’s up to the pope to determine when they must actually step down.
Benedict announced his resignation in Latin, in a pre-recorded video released Monday morning. He stressed the decision was made for health reasons. He becomes the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya spoke to parishioners at Holy Name Cathedral early Monday about the pope’s decision to resign at the end of the month.
“If that’s what he’s going to do, that’s what he’s going to do. That’s astounding,” said one man.