Like many, Rev. Peter Casey of St. Agatha Parish, was caught off guard by Monday morning’s announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will be resigning as pope on February 28.
“Obviously, I was surprised,” said Rev. Casey, who heard about the pope’s resignation from another priest.
Pope Benedict XVI, who is 85 years old, has been in the office for less than eight years. He is retiring, the first time a pope has done so in 600 years, due to health concerns and age.
"I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of the position, the pope said in a statement, according to the New York Times.
Casey applauded Pope Benedict XVI for making the nearly unprecedented decision to step down.
“It takes lots of courage to admit it,” said Rev. Casey, who has been a pastor at St. Agatha since 1998. “I admire him.”
Rev. Casey called the outgoing leader of the Roman Catholic Church “very faithful and strong.” He also acknowledged the work Pope Benedict XVI did with young people, specifically on World Youth Day, a worldwide youth event organized by the Catholic Church.
“The question now is what will happen,” said Rev. Casey.
According to ABC News, 118 members of the College of Cardinals will convene to elect the next pope in what is called a conclave. To be elected, a majority of two-thirds plus one is needed.
Rev. Casey shared some important attributes he’d like to see in the next pope.
“The first thing that comes to mind is someone who realizes he’s being called to an awesome, awesome responsibility,” said Rev. Casey, adding the need for stamina, good listening skills and faith as well as the ability to be pastoral and understanding.
As the conclave prepares to gather in late March, Casey said he is telling parishioners and himself that the right person will be appointed pope.
“God’s the one who’s in charge,” said Rev. Casey.