ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- A stunning announcement from the Vatican was made today that surprised Catholics here in St. Louis and around the world.
Pope Benedict the 16th has announced he will resign at the end of the month. The 85 year old Pontiff said he no longer has the strength to lead the church. He is the first Pope in six hundred years to retire. Catholics outside the New Cathedral were stunned. Tom Doherty said, "I`m surprised as you are that he is resigning."
Auxiliary Bishop Edward Rice saw the Holy Father on two occasions recently and understands the decision to retire. Rice said, "I think from when I saw him in March til the time I saw him in November, you could see he`d been slowing down. He had just returned from the middle east when I saw him in November so he was understandably tired."
New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan said, "I`m not kidding I was very startled."
Archbishop Dolan grew up in Ballwin and attended Holy Infant School and Church. Pope Benedict appointed him both Archbishop and Cardinal.
Archbishop Dolan said, "I just always admired him as a scholar, as a priest as a holy man and now my admiration for him is even higher because of his humility."
He said it`s highly improbably he would be the next pope. Church officials said it`s up to a high power. Bishop Rice said, "We rely upon the Holy Spirit in the election of a new pontiff so whatever the Holy Spirit desires that`s the way the church will go."
Archbishop Dolan`s mother, Shirley had this comment when asked about the possibility her son could lead the Catholic Church, "Please don`t say that I wouldn`t want him in Rome, doesn`t that sound like a good Catholic mother of a Cardinal."
Folks at Holy Infant are proud one of their own is a part of such an important process. The bookies in Ireland posted the odds at 25 to 1 that Archbishop Dolan will be the next Pope. They figure there are many Cardinals ahead of him. It`s expected the College of Cardinals will vote and a new Pope will be in place by Easter.