“It was with great surprise that I heard the news that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning — this is the first time in 600 years that a pope has resigned. The Holy Father realized that his age and health would make it difficult to continue fulfilling the role entrusted to him as the supreme pastor of the church.
“I think he should be commended for his decision. He not only has the wisdom and foresight to see the limitations of his age and health, but also has the humility to give up the office of St. Peter. He was able to humbly resign the office entrusted to him, making way for the church to have a new pastor, someone who will take up his leadership and continue the pastoral and spiritual care of the church.
“Pope Benedict brought to the papacy the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor. For eight years he has led the church, during which time he responded to some very serious concerns. He gave us an excellent example of selfless leadership.
“I never had the opportunity to meet Pope Benedict XVI, but I certainly have a bond with him as he is the one who appointed me as Bishop of Erie.
“At this time, I ask all of the faithful of the Diocese of Erie to pray for Pope Benedict XVI and to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals of the Catholic Church as they prepare for the conclave where they will elect the new pope. Pray they will elect someone who will truly fit the needs of the time for the church.”
Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, Bishop of Erie