At a news conference this morning, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said he has strongly mixed feelings about the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign at the end of the month. Sartain said he learned the news early this morning, when he felt a prompting to turn on the television. He went directly to his chapel to pray for the pope, whom he has met several times and found to be kind and a very humble man.
Sartain said he was surprised by the pope’s resignation, and wondered if it would be precedent-setting for future popes who also might find the rigors of a pope’s schedule exhausting as they age. The pope, Sartain said, often looks tired.
He said he is not worried about the resignation weakening the church. In fact, he said, he sees it as “a sign of his own strength of resolve to do what’s best for the church.” He doesn’t anticipate any big changes with the change in leadership, he said. “I think we’ll have a new shepherd.”
He declined to speculate about the pope’s replacement.
Sartain described the pope as a gentle and humble person who looked directly into his eyes while talking to him and conveyed a sense that he was offering great personal care.