Bishop Daniel Conlon, leader of the Diocese of Joliet, tells the Catholic flock not to worry.
The announcement Monday from the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI would resign sent shock waves through Catholic congregations around the world. Elected to succeed the popular Pope John Paul II in 2005, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany cited poor health as the reason.
Bishop Daniel Conlon, leader of the Diocese of Joliet, released a statement to the people in the 135-plus parishes in the seven counties that make up the diocese.
"Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign comes as a surprise to all of us. Yet, it is consistent with the humble disposition that I have come to recognize in him, both in my brief personal encounters with him and in his deportment generally as earthly shepherd of the Church. He recognized that he no longer had the physical gifts necessary to carry out an office that becomes increasingly demanding."
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Rev. Donald Lewandowski, pastor at St. Jude Parish in New Lenox, told 7 a.m. Mass-goers that he too was taken by surprise. He later said, "I think he resigned for the right reason. His health is failing, and he can't give his all."
Recognizing that is the mark of a man who is concerned about the well-being of the church. "I think it's for the good of the church that he did resign," said Lewandowski.
Reflecting on the pope's contribution over the past seven-plus years, Conlon noted, "The Holy Father has been a true blessing to us. He has been able to express the truths of faith in ways that are comprehensible for our times. He has been a steady and calm presence in the face of tumult in the world. He has persevered in Blessed John Paul II’s determination to confront the scandal of child abuse in the Church." For more information on the bishop's statement, go to the website for the Diocese of Joliet.
Effective on Feb. 28, the pope's letter of resignation can be viewed on the website for the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
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