Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: President Obama, Italian Prime Minister, Other World and Church Leaders React

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Statement From Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron:

"Like most of my fellow Catholics, I woke this morning to the very surprising news that Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is resigning his service as the successor of St. Peter. Quickly after the surprise followed sadness, a sense of grief at losing his fatherly care for all us, bishops, clergy and faithful. We have come to love him very much and will miss him.

"Most of us know in our own personal lives what it means to see a parent grow old and decline in ability. That is the sense we bring to this announcement. Our spiritual father has determined, by the best light given to him in prayer, that for the good of us all he must lay down his office.

"It was with the support of our daily prayers that Pope Benedict passed his years in the Chair of Peter and has come to this point. I invite all Catholics to pray all the more ardently for the Holy Father Pope Benedict, that God sustain him in these last weeks of his papacy and guide him through what lies ahead. And we look to the future with confidence, that the Lord who has given us this great pope and loving father, will give us a new shepherd of equal merit."

Statement from Catholics United Executive Director James Salt:

"Today's surprising announcement from Pope Benedict XVI is a sign of humility from the aging Holy Father. In light of his decision, we must take the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of this papacy. To many, the Catholic church hierarchy has been seen as an institution overly focused on issues of human sexuality, such as opposition to access to birth control and marriage equality, rather than first serving the poor as Christ commanded.

"The next pope has a unique opportunity to radically shift the agenda of the church. Increasingly, the Catholic church is one that represents interests far removed from Europe or North America. The cardinals can and should consider opening their horizons toward a successor from the global south, such as Latin America or Africa, whose experience represents a vastly different worldview than many church leaders.

"Catholics know the heavy burden of the papacy is wrought with challenges. The next pope will have to face the greatest moral challenge of our day: the imminent threat of global climate change and its effect on the poorest. He must protect and expand equality and the role of women and those affected by oppression. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he must dedicate himself to protecting the least among us, especially children, who have been affected by the shameful scourge of abuse.

"We pray the next pope has the wisdom to lead us in a bold direction toward hope and unity, and away from oppression and division."

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