Catholic lawmakers weighed in Monday on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to leave the Papacy at the end of the month.
Congressmen, senators and the President were unified in their praise of his decision to put the interests of the Church first.
In a letter in Latin delivered Monday to the church council, Benedict said he feels he is no longer physically able to continue serving in the role he assumed less than eight years ago.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.”
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a 1977 graduate of the Jesuit Xavier University, said people were “inspired” by Benedict’s “quiet, steady leadership of the Church in uncertain times.”
“The prayers and gratitude of American Catholics are with Pope Benedict XVI today,” he said.
“The Holy Father’s decision displays extraordinary humility and love for the Church, two things that have been the hallmarks of his service.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., praised Benedict for his priorities and his work for the less fortunate.
“Today Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy,” he said.
“Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe.”
President Obama recalled his meeting with the Holy Father at the Vatican.
“On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,” Obama said.
“Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.”
Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., summed up the overall feeling of surprise at the Pope’s announcement. He also recognized his leadership skills and wished the aging Pontiff well.
“One sign of a great leader is knowing when to step down,” Grimm said. “While we are shocked by this news, I commend Pope Benedict for putting the future of the Catholic Church before all else, and today I join Catholics around the world in praying for his health and well-being.”
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