Headlines Monday used words like “shocked” and “surprised” to describe people’s reaction to Pope Benedict XVI resignation and in Norwich, the Bishop Michael Cote, of the Diocese of Norwich said, “this is an extraordinary moment.”
“The news of the Holy Father’s decision to resign his ministry as successor to Saint Peter and leader of the Universal Church came as a very big surprise this morning to me and, I believe, all Catholics,” wrote Cote.
The Rev. Brian Converse of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Gales Ferry echoed the statement released by the Archbishop Henry J. Mansell in Hartford.
“We have 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.”
A Huffington Post article says that “he was simply too infirm to carry on,” and that the resignation will be effective Feb. 28.
The article excerpted the Pope’s letter to his cardinals, which said, "However, 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 barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths 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."
One reader wished the 85-year-old Pope a peaceful and pain free retirement on the Ledyard Patch Facebook page. Other reactions varied from indifference to dread of the seemingly drawn out news coverage of the election of a new Pope, which will take place in mid-March.
A Pope has not resigned in 600 years.
“All parishioners, friends and followers of the faith in the Diocese of Norwich, which surprised by this historic announcement should be impressed with the strength of a leader willing to step aside believing it will help the Church,” wrote Cote.