Archbishop Dolan 'Shocked' at Pope Benedict XVI Decision to Resign

By Trevor Kapp and Theodore Parisienne  on February 11, 2013 6:44am  | Updated on February 11, 2013 11:01am

NEW YORK CITY — Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other Catholics across the city were shocked and saddened Monday at the news that Pope Benedict XVI had decided to resign at the end of the month.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church will leave his post on Feb. 28., the Vatican announced.

"I, myself, am waiting for information, for instruction as to what we would do now as the college of Cardinals," said Archbishop Dolan, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. 

"I would have to say my affection for and my admiration for Pope Benedict XVI has skyrocketed," he added. "I love him so much... I just always admired him as a scholar, as a priest, as a holy man. My admiration for him is even higher."

Catholics have always seen the 85-year-old pope as a father-figure, Dolan said.

"It’s like watching your own dad get old and admit that he’s not up to all the duties that being head of the family involved," he said.

The pontiff, who announced his plans in Latin at a consistory meeting on Monday, intends to resign because of a lack of energy.

"Both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," he said at the meeting.

In March 2012, the pope used a cane apparently for the first time in public, a possible sign of his debilitating health, several news outlets reported. He was constantly surrounded by people who would often jostle him in their attempts to see him or request prayers, Dolan said. 

"It was an indication that this man was well aware of his physical limitation," he added. "I was not privy to it, but I’m told when he was elected as successor to St. Peter in 2005 he shrugged and said to his brother Cardinals, ‘I sure don’t have the strength or the durability that John Paul II had.'"

 Cardinal Dolan addresses the media at his residence on Monday February 11th, 2013.
Cardinal Dolan addresses the media at his residence on Monday February 11th, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Theodore Parisienne

Dolan, believed to be a frontrunner as a possible papal succesor, downplayed his chances.

"That’s just way too out of the realm of probability,” said Dolan, who will travel to Rome next month.

New Yorkers outside of St. Patrick's said they were sad to the see the pope go.

"If he's resigning, he certainly has a good reason to do so, and we'll miss him," said Kathleen McManus, 61, outside of the historic cathedral.

Marie Oates, 50, from Murray Hill, said Pope Benedict XVI has had a memorable tenure at the papacy.

"I think he's been a wonderful pope. I've been thanking God for him," she said. ""He had big shoes to fill following the wake of John Paul II, and I'm praying for the next pope."

Dolan, meanwhile, urged Catholics to stay united while he gets word from the Vatican.

"We love Benedict XVI. Jesus is in charge of the church," Dolan said. "It’s his church and he’s going to guide us through whatever happens."

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