YORKTOWN, N.Y. –The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI surprised many in the Catholic community Monday, including Yorktown's Father Dan Tuite.
Tuite said he supports the pope’s decision but is sad to see him go. He said he "loved him as a pope," but admired Benedict's decision to put the church first instead of "pushing it to the bitter end."
“He didn’t have to give it up,” said Tuite, a priest at St. Patrick’s Church in Yorktown. “But he did so for the betterment of the church. Maybe more elected officials should do the same.”
Pope Benedict , 85, said in a statement released by the Vatican in Rome that his health is failing. He will be the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign in almost 600 years. German-born Joseph Ratzinger has been Pope Benedict XVI for eight years.
"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," said Benedict, according to the Vatican.
Benedict will become the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Tuite said there is a stipulation in canon law that a resignation must be made freely and properly manifested and that the decision is made of “sound mind and body.”
“There’s precedent,” Tuite said. “Quite a gap in precedent, but a precedent nonetheless.”
After the resignation takes effect on Feb. 28, cardinals will gather in Rome to select a successor. It takes at least two-thirds plus one of the 118 voting cardinals to elect a new leader for the church, Tuite said.
Pope Benedict will now return to being Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. But since he is more than 80 years old, he will not officially be involved in the decision-making process.