Local church leaders react to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Local church leaders react to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation

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Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he will be stepping down caught most of the world by surprise Monday.

Priests and the local bishop were caught blind sided as well. The announcement came straight from the pope himself.

Bishop Charles Thompson who has met the Holy Father a couple of times says he was caught off guard, but not shocked.

I remember thinking mentally he seemed very sharp, but physically he was very frail... I just think it's in a lot of ways his humility and wisdom to make this decision," said Thompson.

Bishop Thompson is a cannon lawyer and says that while this hasn't happened in hundreds of years, there are provisions for a pope stepping down.

"The cardinals of the church, who are all under 80 will come together in what's called a conclave," said Thompson.

The bishop says the cardinals elect a new pope before the end of March.

"I think that first and foremost we should be thankful to the Holy Father for his great leadership, his unselfish service to the church," said Thompson. 

As for the next pope? Bishop Thompson says pray.

"Pray for the holy spirits guidance in this upcoming conclave. And choice of the next pope," he said.

In the Owensboro Diocese, Bishop Willaim Medley says he was also surprised to hear the news about the pope's resignation.

The bishop recently met with Pope Benedict XVI, and says he'll be remembered for lots of things, especially Christian unity and giving a voice to the poor and after today, something else as well.

"This action of his to choose to be the first pope to resign from his office in nearly 600 years will be a measure by which future popes as they reach elderly years or face health impairment will...he leaves a mark in that regard," said Medley.

The pope's last day will be February 28th. 

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