BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Catholics are expressing support for Pope Benedict XVI, who made the surprise decision to become the first pope in almost 600 years to resign.
Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley hailed Benedict's "courage," and recalled the pope's meeting in Washington, D.C., in 2008 with Boston-area victims of the clergy sex abuse crisis.
Bishop Robert Deeley, the vicar general of the Boston Archdiocese, on Monday gave thanks for Benedict's "faithful leadership" in his eight years as pope.
Deeley, who worked directly with the pope in Rome, said Benedict has a "deep and abiding love for the Church."
Ray Flynn, the former Boston mayor and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, called Benedict a "pious and caring priest." Flynn called the resignation an "act of sacrifice" to make way for a more energized leader.
Statement from Cardinal Sean O'Malley:
"The Catholic community and the world today learned that Pope Benedict XVI, following deep prayer and reflection, announced that he will resign the papacy at the end of this month. We join the universal Church in offering prayerful gratitude for the Holy Father's faith, courage and his leadership as the successor of Peter.
At this time it is appropriate for the Church and all people of good faith to reflect on Pope Benedict's legacy and achievements. He brought unique capabilities to the papacy as a highly qualified scholar and teacher, and as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in service to Blessed John Paul II. His fidelity to maintaining the truth and clarity of the Catholic faith, to cultivating ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and in reaching out to inspire the next generation of Catholics have been great gifts to us all.
It was a great privilege for me to be present as Pope Benedict met with survivors of clergy sexual abuse during his visit to the United States in April 2008. At that meeting the Holy Father's pastoral care for the survivors was clearly evident, as was his commitment and determination to heal the wounds of all persons impacted by the abuse crisis and to insure that the Church continues to do all that is possible to provide for the protection of children.
During the coming weeks we will continue to pray for Pope Benedict XVI and will call upon the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Church moves forward to choose the next successor to Saint Peter."
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