GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Greenburgh religious leaders said they are keeping Pope Benedict XVI in their prayers after the Catholic leader announced Monday that he would be resigning due to poor mental and physical strength.
The announcement came Monday morning as Pope Benedict, 85, told a small gathering of cardinals that his "strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise" to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, a New York Times article reported. The resignation will mark the first papal abdication in 600 years.
Pope Benedict's predecessor John Paul II continued leading the papacy despite being severely ill with Parkinson's Disease, but Father Robert Norris of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Elmsford said it's always an option for a pope to resign if he feels he is not healthy enough for the position.
"It's not been used in many centuries, but it's certainly an option," Norris said. "He obviously went through a lot of prayer and discern to make that decision. I trust that he's made the right decision."
While Maria Regina High School Principal Robert Fazio was "shocked" to hear the news, he said he will lead the school in keeping both the pope and the Catholic church in their prayers.
"It's such a shocking bit of news, to hear that he's retiring," Fazio said. "We'll have to let the news digest a little to decide a plan of attack to recognize the very, very changing time we're going to be faced with."
Maria Regina holds mass on the first Friday of the month, and Fazio said he plans to meet with the campus ministry to discuss additional special blessings to pray for "a seamless transition as we change popes," he said.
Monsignor Patrick Carney, of the Sacred Heart Church of Hartsdale, said he recognized that the pope was too weak to continue, and wishes the best for Benedict's health.
"It's whatever he decides — he's not the first pope to retire," Carney said. "Just like I'd wish anybody well who's retiring, I wish him many happy years."