Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he is resigning, effective Feb. 28.
Archdiocese of Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory held a press conference this afternoon in Smyrna to address questions and concerns.
“This announcement has sparked widespread surprise but also a great outpouring of prayers and affection for the Holy Father. His stated reasons for resigning are his frailty as a result of age and his desire to make sure that the Church has a Pontiff with the energy and stamina to carry on the heavy burdens that come with the Office of Pope. Characteristically of the Holy Father was the humility of the statement and the pastoral love expressed for the Church that has prompted his decision,” stated Gregory.
Calling for prayer, Gregory said, “I ask all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta to keep the Holy Father in prayer and the College of Cardinals who will be summoned to Rome to exercise their unique function in electing a new Pope according to a time-frame that will be announced.”
Rev. Frank McNamee, pastor of Buckhead's Cathedral of Christ the King, said the Pope's resignation announcement was "surprising."
McNamee said he understands that the Pope "realizes his own limitations with his age and his health and..he's doing what's good for the Church."
As for who may next be named the next Pope of the Catholic Church, McNamee said, "There's going to be a lot of speculation, but we pray to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that the College of Cardinals will elect a new pope."
The Pope's resignation letter reads in part:
"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... 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..."
Pope Benedict XVI, born in 1927 in Bavaria as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, is the 265th pope. The last pope to resign was Gregory XII, in 1415.
How do you feel about Pope Benedict XVI's resignation? What impact will this have on your life?