Cardinal George: Pope`s resignation shows courage - FOX 32 News Chicago

Cardinal George: Pope`s resignation shows courage

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Pope Benedict XVI surprised many when he announced his resignation Monday. The 85-year-old leader of the Catholics said he will step down at the end of the month because he no longer has the physical strength to carry out his duties.

VIDEO: Cardinal George addresses Pope Benedict XVI resignation, Part 1

He was elected to succeed John Paul II in 2005 and becomes the first pope to resign in almost 600 hundred years.

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, 76, was in Rome a few days ago, meeting with the Pope, but he said he was just as surprised as everyone else by Monday's news.

VIDEO: Cardinal George addresses Pope Benedict XVI resignation, Part 2

In a statement, George says Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign shows "great courage" and that the pope has always "placed the will of God for the good of the Church before every other consideration."

Cardinal George is contemplating his own retirement, but told FOX 32 News he is looking forward to returning to Rome. He played a prominent role when church leaders picked the current Pope.

When Germany's Cardinal Ratzinger emerged as Benedict XVI, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George was among the Church Fathers close to him basking in the acclaim for the new Pope. 8 years later, the 85-year old pontiff moves noticeably slower, and has difficulty with the international travel that is now so integral to leading the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. But reflecting on his meeting the Pontiff last Thursday, Cardinal George said he thinks there's something else behind the resignation news.

"He's a very private person, as you know," Cardinal George said in a press conference. "And it's the public role that is the most difficult for him. And it takes the most energy on his part. Someone who's extroverted takes energy from people. Someone who's introverted loses energy to people."

In that sense, Benedict was very different from his gregarious predecessor John Paul II, the Polish Pope from behind the Iron Curtain, whose election helped hasten the collapse of Soviet Communism. As Church Fathers prepare to gather in Rome, some Catholic thinkers wonder what would result if the next Pope were chosen from the predominantly non-Christian Middle East or Asia. Some point in particular to the men Pope Benedict invited to a special Church consistory last November.

"There was a Maronite Catholic from Lebanon," says DePaul University's Peter Casarella. "There was a Syro-Malanchar Catholic from India. And a lot of discussion about the choice of a man in his fifties, the Archbishop of Manila."

There was a lot of speculation about how a pope from a third-world would change the church and perhaps change the international dialogue about issues regarding economic development. A pope from the Middle East or Lebanon--someone able to speak the language of the Muslim, Islamic, or Hindu faith--would be a big surprise.

The bishop of Joliet also issued a statement Monday. Bishop R. Daniel Conlon says the pope's announcement "comes as a surprise to all of us," yet is consistent with the pope's "humble disposition."

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