Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will resign later this month, creating a lot of public discussion in the Catholic community.
Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, is the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign from his position.
In his declaration, Benedict cited his resignation to advanced years and illness.
“In order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which, in the last few months, has deteriorated me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.
He was elected pope in 2005, following the death of Pope John Paul II.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said elections will be held in March, and he anticipates the planet’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics will be able to welcome a new pope before Easter.
St. Mary’s University Parish, 1405 S. Washington St., posted a statement Monday, citing its affection for respect for Benedict and his decision, through a quote by Archbishop José Horacio Gomez.
“Pope Benedict XVI has truly been a Holy Father to the family of God, his Catholic Church. His decision to resign is a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint, who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people,” Gomez said.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron told the Detroit Free Press he believes Benedict timed his resignation and succession to coincide with the Catholic Lenten period of reflection and fasting before Easter.
Benedict is the first pope to resign in the modern era. The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 in the wake of the “Great Western Schism.”
For years, the Catholic Church has been the center of sex abuse scandals, funding crises, gay rights controversies and declining memberships in Western countries.
Still, Dearborn senior Stephanie Santostasi said she respects the pope’s decision to resign.
“I feel it was the best decision for him, and I think the Catholic Church will do their best in picking a new, qualified candidate,” she said.