VATICAN CITY (www.incnow.tv) - Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down as head of the Catholic Church February 28.
The Pope cites feeling a lack of energy in continuing the job. This is the first time a Pope has resigned since the 1400's when Pope Gregory resigned.
Bishop Kevin Rhodes of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is saddened by the news but says he trusts Pope Benedict is making the right choice for himself and the church.
Bishop Rhoades had the opportunity to meet the Pope many times and says in his most recent meeting, about a year ago, he noticed the declining health of Pope Benedict. So although he didn't expect this announcement he wasn't completely shocked.
“Every week I read his homilies and some of his speeches and they've been so helpful to me so I'm going to miss that, you know, his rich teachings. I trust that in prayer he knew that he didn't have the strength to do this and for the good of the church did this so I trust in his judgment on that," said Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne South Bend.
Adam DeVille, a theology professor from the University of Saint Francis, says this all makes sense because it fits with what Pope Benedict has wanted since before he was ordained as pope.
Pope Benedict has become known for his dramatic changes in liturgy by taking it back to the older Latin forms. He's also known for being the first pope to tweet and embrace social media. DeVille says that was his method to reach out to a larger audience because he knew that was the wave of the future.
Professor DeVille says Pope Benedict never wanted this role and, at first, he resisted becoming pope. His predecessor, John Paul, was very public about his illness and remained serving as pope until his death. DeVille says it seems natural for Pope Benedict to step aside because that's his personality, and he too wasn't shocked by this announcement.
"This is a refreshing new development that might help people do something that Benedict himself has said, really since the 1960s he wanted to see more of and that was people stop focusing quite so much on the Pope. Even when John Paul was alive Benedict thought that the Pope and his office had turned into a superstar," said Adam DeVille, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Theology, USF.
Although it is not yet clear what Pope Benedict will do in retirement DeVille expects him to stay out of the public eye and live the rest of his life in private.
The process to select a new pope will begin in the coming weeks. There are about 120 cardinals from around the world who will go to the Vatican to vote. They're expected to go into Conclave in the coming weeks and that is when the vote will take place.
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