2/11/2013 6:43 PM
by Rebecca Turco
BECKLEY - Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month, according to Vatican officials. The surprise announcement was made on Monday during a meeting of Vatican cardinals.
Benedict is the first pope to resign in about 600 years. The 85-year-old said he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties.
Local church officials said they were shocked by the news but gracious of Benedict's selflessness. "He's willing to sacrifice himself so someone else can carry on the work begun by Christ through the apostles," said Sister Janice Rospert of St. Francis de Sales in Beckley.
"My immediate reaction was just great love and admiration for this man," said Father Chapin Engler, a priest in Greenbrier County. "To have the courage to be able to step down and get outside of ones self and do something for the good of everyone is something that makes me love him even more."
Some local parishioners agreed it was a brave decision for the pope to resign. "I suppose it takes a lot of courage," said Margaret Dancy of Beckley. "I think it takes a lot of courage sometimes for all of us to recognize when we're no longer able to do our jobs and do it effectively."
Tony Tipana of Beckley said he agrees with the pope's decision. "I think that the reasons he gave for resigning are valid reasons. And I admire him for it."
Engler said Benedict's legacy will be his boldness. "He had the courage to stand up and speak the truth in a world where the truth is relative," he said. "In a world where the truth is very unpopular. In a world where we are so caught up in political correctness. He was not afraid, he was very bold."
Officials at the Vatican said no specific medical condition prompted Benedict's decision. A conclave will take place in March to elect a new leader for the one-billion Catholics around the world.