Atlanta archbishop reacts to Pope's resignation - New York News

Atlanta archbishop reacts to Pope's resignation

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SMYRNA, Ga. -

News that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning shocked Catholics around the world and in metro Atlanta.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory is calling on parishioners to remember Pope Benedict XVI on a day designated by the church as "World Day of the Sick."

The Archbishop told congregants the pontiff is retiring at the end of the month because of his age.

"The reason he gives is that he's growing old and frail," Gregory said.

After mass, the Archbishop said that Pope Benedict wasn't the man he had known for many years when he last saw him in May.

"I remember him as a very engaging and energetic individual, eager to dialogue and make himself available. In May, he was noticeably tired," Gregory said.

Gregory was appointed by Pope John Paul II, the second longest serving pontiff in Catholic history. He says Pope Benedict privately witnessed the decline of his predecessor's health and a very public battle with Parkinson's disease.

"And perhaps he, out of his love for the church, decided let's not do that again," Gregory said.

The faithful who attended Mass were shocked, but called Pope Benedict brave for stepping down of his own volition.

"Courageous thing for him to do, accepting the fact that he may be having physical problems," said Ed Yarosz.

The College of Cardinals will choose Pope Benedict's successor.

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