President Barack Obama extended his thoughts and prayers to Pope Benedict XVI in a statement after the Catholic leader announced his resignation Monday morning.
“The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor,” according to the statement.
The president added that he and First Lady Michelle Obama “warmly remember” meeting the Pope in 2009 and “appreciated” the work they have done since.
The 85-year-old Pope made the surprise announcement Monday morning, citing his health that has “deteriorated” in the last few months.
“I have to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said in his resignation, which very few insiders were aware of.
He is the first pope to resign from the highest rank in the Catholic Church in almost 600 years. The last was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
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