TORONTO - Surprise, a lack of understanding and even some disappointment — those were among the initial emotions expressed by a number of Canadians on Monday after Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be resigning at the end of the month.

Canadians holding high office in the Catholic church acknowledged the Pope's move was unconventional and a shock for the church, but said it was something Benedict did for the good of the church.

"This is not a cause for anxiety or worry because the church has been, is now, and always will be in the hands of God, and guided by God," said Archbishop Richard Smith, who is also president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"This particular decision, as surprising and unprecedented as it is in modern times, is thoroughly consistent with the witness that (Benedict) has given us through many, many years. It is something that he has taken with serious thought, solely for the good of the church."

Benedict becomes the first pontiff to step down in 600 years. The 85-year-old declared he would resign Feb. 28, citing a lack of strength to do the job.

The news drew exclamations from parishioners, some of whom headed to mid-day mass specifically to seek further information on the Pope's startling announcement.

"I'm so sad," said Ana Amos, 48, as she headed into St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto. "I cried when Pope John Paul died, and next I was happy that another pope came, but now he is resigning, I don't know why?"

Other Canadians mourned Benedict's impending departure.

"We have never had such a brilliant man in the papacy. It's going to be quite a loss," said Helene Hoffman before she sat down for mass. "He's a great Pope, it's just strange that he's leaving."

There were those, however, who thought Benedict's move was the right one.

"We need somebody younger to be able to carry out the duties of the pope," said Maria Ebhabha. "I think he did a good thing, because he's old."

A conclave of cardinals will select Benedict's successor in Rome in the coming weeks. Among those being mentioned as a strong contender is Quebec native, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, who currently heads the Congregation for Bishops, which vets bishops nominations worldwide.

The Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins, who will be among those choosing the next pope, offered few thoughts on Ouellet's chances, saying it was too early to speculate on Benedict's successor.

For Collins, Benedict's resignation heralds a time of deep reflection on the qualities desired in the next pope, and signals a period during which the current pontiff's contributions to the faith ought to be celebrated.

"I think the whole church gathers together at such a time in prayer for the college of cardinals and this most profound mission we have," he said. "I think it is a time for us to give thanks to God for the tremendous leadership of Pope Benedict who speaks with clarity and charity.

In Collins's estimation, Monday's news was no cause for faith in the church to be shaken.

"Normally popes have gone till death and this is a change in that," he admitted. "Not having Pope Benedict as Pope is obviously a great shock for the church and a loss for the church ... but each person has to read the time and their own person, and what is best and that's entrusted to the pope to read that."

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism, a dispute among competing papal claimants.

Whether Benedict's resignation will pave a path for more modern-day resignations, however, remains to be seen, said Queen’s University teaching fellow Robert Dennis, who specializes in the history of the modern Vatican.

"There really is no modern equivalent for it," said Dennis, who is also vice president of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association.

"I don't know if we can say this will be the norm going forward. I think it will very much be a matter of the conscience of the individual person."

Regardless of how the move impacts the highest offices of the church, for those in the pews, Dennis said Benedict's resignation will take some time to be digested, but ought to eventually be accepted as one which wasn't made lightly.

"Nobody has a memory of this happening, obviously. So it will probably affect people in different ways," he said. "That a pope can move on from the office is probably something not everyone will feel comfortable with, and at the same time there's recognition that the office has demands and there's a very human element...that there is perhaps the need for someone that has a more youthful vitality."

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  • Cardinal Peter Turkson

    LONDON - SEPTEMBER 17: Energy secretary Chris Huhne and Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson attend a State Banquet in honour of Pope Benedict XVI at Lancaster House in on September 17, 2010 in London, England. Pope Benedict XVI is conducting the first state visit to the UK by a Pontiff. During the four day visit Pope Benedict will celebrate mass, conduct a prayer vigil as well as beatify Cardinal Newman at an open air mass in Cofton Park. His Holiness will meet The Queen as well as political and religious representatives. (Photo by Chris Radburn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

    Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, splashes holy water during his visit to the Church of the Nativity in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem on February 27, 2008. AFP PHOTO/MUSA AL-SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL-SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Cardinal Marc Ouellet

    TRIER, GERMANY - APRIL 13: Cardinal Marc Ouellet holds a mass in celebration of The Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe at the Cathedral of St Peter on April 13, 2012 in Trier, Germany. The Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe runs from April 13 to May 13, during which hundreds of thousands pilgrims are expected to view the Holy Robe. The robe, said to have been worn by Jesus Christ leading up to his crucifixion, is housed by the cathedral and rarely displayed for public viewing. (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

  • Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

    The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi poses during the presentation of Pope Benedict XVI's new book 'Childhood of Jesus' to the press on November 20, 2012 at the Vatican. “Childhood of Jesus” is the third volume of Joseph Ratzinger's 'Jesus of Nazareth' series. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (L)

    Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (L) and the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola chat at La Scala theatre in Milan on June 1, 2012 during the 7th World Meeting of Families. Benedict attended a concert at the prestigious Scala opera house to hear Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DANIEL DAL ZENNARO (Photo credit should read DANIEL DAL ZENNARO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

    President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Vatican City Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (C) pay his respects at the Golden Temple Sikh Shrine in Amritsar on November 11, 2011. Tauran along with four members visited the city to attend a religious seminary on Sikhism and Christians to be held at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar on November 12. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco

    Pope Benedict XVI talks with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of CEI (Italian Bishops' Conference), during an audience with the Curia for Christmas greetings, in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace, in Vatican City, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. The Pope met with Cardinals and members of the Roman Curia for an exchange of greetings ahead of the year end festivities. (AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Pool)

  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan

    New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press in his residence, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Dolan says he was as startled as the rest of the world about Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he will resign later this month due to failing health. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

    Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines takes place for an audience with the pontif on November 26, 2012 at Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI led an audience to the six non-European prelates appointed two-days ago as new members of the College of Cardinals. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Cardinal Francis Arinze

    Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, right, arrives for a meeting, at the Vatican, Monday, March 4, 2013. Cardinals from around the world have gathered inside the Vatican for their first round of meetings before the conclave to elect the next pope, amid scandals inside and out of the Vatican and the continued reverberations of Benedict XVI's decision to retire. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) CORRECTION: An earlier photo incorrectly identified Bernard Cardinal Agre, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cote D'Ivoire as Cardinal Arinze


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AP reports:

REGENSBURG, Germany — Pope Benedict XVI is planning to stay out of the public eye following his retirement at the end of the month but may stand ready to advise his successor if asked, his brother said Tuesday after talking with the pontiff.

Speaking to reporters at his home in the southern German city of Regensburg, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who was ordained on the same day in 1951 as his brother Joseph, said he didn't expect Benedict's continued presence in the Vatican to intimidate the next pope.

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Keith Thomson writes in a blog post:

Much is at stake with the selection of Pope Benedict XVI's successor, including a lot of money. Paddy Power, Europe's largest bookmaker, has already taken more than £100,000 in bets, and expects to see multi-million-pound action closer to next month's conclave at the Sistine Chapel.

While Las Vegas casinos refuse to accept such bets for reasons of "taste," Paddy Power is one of several major international bookmakers currently offering papal markets, not only on who will be the next pope, but what papal name he'll choose, his country of origin, and the length of the papal conclave, among others.

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A group of topless activists scandalized visitors at Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday by disrobing in public to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.

The small group of women, all affiliated with radical feminist group FEMEN, flashed their breasts and banged on bells in the cathedral, shouting slogans such as, "Bye Bye Benedict" and "No more homophobe," according to the Agence France-Presse.

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HuffPost's Lila Shapiro reports:

Jeannine Gramick, a Roman Catholic nun and co-founder of a U.S. ministry for gay and lesbian Catholics, met Pope Benedict XVI only once, by chance, on a plane flying from Baltimore to Rome in the late-'90s. Because of her work with the lesbian and gay community, Gramick had by then been under investigation by the Vatican for more than two decades.

The encounter was serendipitous, Gramick recalled Monday after hearing news of Benedict's resignation. Gramick and leaders at her ministry had been worried that she would be excommunicated. She was traveling with the head of her order to Munich, via Rome, to pray that she would keep her place in the church. When she boarded the plane, she saw Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became pope, sitting with two empty seats beside him. She mustered her courage and sat next to him. "When he found out who I was, he just smiled and said 'Oh, I've known about you for 20 years,'" she said.

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vatican nuns pray

Nuns pray inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. With a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope has done in more than half a millennium, stunning the world by announcing his resignation Monday and leaving the already troubled Catholic Church to replace the leader of its 1 billion followers by Easter. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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Reuters reports:

VATICAN CITY, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Cardinals around the world began informal contacts to discuss who should next lead the Church through a period of major crisis and the Vatican said it planned a big send-off for Pope Benedict before he becomes the first pontiff in centuries to resign.

At a Tuesday news conference on how the pope plans to spend the next two weeks before he steps out of the limelight, the Vatican also disclosed that the 85-year-old Benedict has been wearing a pacemaker since before he was elected pope in 2005.

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Yesterday morning the Church and the world learned that Pope Benedict XVI, following an extended period of prayer and reflection, discerned that he would resign the papacy at the end of this month. This news certainly came as a great surprise to all of us. It would be reasonable to consider that the Holy Father's advancing age and the responsibilities of being the leader for more than one billion Catholics, including the demands of extensive international travel, played a central role in his decision. We join the universal Church in offering prayerful gratitude for the Holy Father's faith, courage and his leadership as the successor of Peter.

At this time it is appropriate for the Church and all people of good faith to reflect on Pope Benedict's legacy and achievements. He brought unique capabilities to the papacy as a highly qualified scholar and teacher, and as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in service to Blessed John Paul II. His fidelity to maintaining the truth and clarity of the Catholic faith, to cultivating ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and in reaching out to inspire the next generation of Catholics have been great gifts to us all.

During the course of the past eight years Pope Benedict embraced the papacy with the heart of a kind and caring shepherd, always holding the spiritual and pastoral care of the people of God to be the highest priority. The Holy Father also generously used his superior intellectual gifts, well established through his reputation as a renowned scholar, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church with people from all walks of life throughout the world. He guided the Church through unprecedented challenges, always finding strength in Jesus' promise to be with us always, and led a world-wide renewal of evangelization that will influence the Catholicism for generations to come.

The Archdiocese of Boston in particular has been greatly blessed by Pope Benedict's care and concern.In all of my conversations with him he has always asked me to assure this local Church of his prayers and encouragement. I will always hold the Holy Father's 2008 meeting with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and our presentation of the Book of Names of living and deceased survivors, as one of the most powerful experiences of my life and priesthood.

His overwhelming sorrow that such heinous crimes were perpetrated on the survivors and his heartfelt expression of love and concern were deeply moving, as was his absolute commitment that the abuse never be repeated and that the Church maintain her vigilance to do everything possible to insure the safety of children.

While there will be much speculation in the days and weeks ahead regarding who will follow the Holy Father to the Chair of Peter, at this moment we are called to reflect on Pope Benedict's leadership; offering prayers of gratitude for this servant of Christ who so dearly loves all of God's people. At this extraordinary moment in the life of the Church, we pray for the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit and the strength given by our Lord, who, assures us that he will be with us always.

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Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship, releases a statement:

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Rabbi Burton Visotzky, director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Jewish Theological Seminary, discusses the positive state of Jewish-Catholic relations under Pope Benedict XVI's leadership and his hopes for the future.

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mater ecclesiae monastery

A view of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, right, next to the Tower of San Giovanni, inside the Vatican State where Pope Benedict XVI is expected to live after he resigns, on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister. Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI's retirement home. On Tuesday, construction materials littered the front lawn of the house and plastic tubing snaked down from the top floor to a dump truck as the restoration deadline became ever more critical following Benedict's stunning announcement that he would resign Feb. 28 and live his remaining days in prayer. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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femen protest

Activists of the Women's Movement FEMEN, protest against the Pope Benedict XVI who announced his resignation yesterday, in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

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Andreas Widmer writes in a blog post:

The Vatican moves very slowly -- they measure time in centuries, not years. Thus the news from Pope Benedict of his impending resignation during the last stretch of his seventh year as pope struck the public like lightning.

"Shocking! Unbelievable!" was the sentiment that came to mind when I (and I presume you) first learned of Pope Benedict's abdication.

This reaction is a natural initial response -- but there's a lot more to the story. The mainstream discussion about Benedict's decision is a regrettable oversimplification. We don't do justice to this important announcement declaring the pontificate a failure and proceeding to a guessing game of "who's the next pope."

Before we move on, we need to stop and reflect on what just happened -- not just in the past seven years, but the last 70 years. Upon closer examination of the facts, observers will see that this was a strategic decision, and not one done in a moment of weakness or despair.

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Agence France Presse reports:

French President Francois Hollande had his knuckles rapped for it but most of Europe felt free Tuesday to start cracking jokes about Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, sometimes with a sharp anti-clerical edge.

The paedophilia scandal that has engulfed the Roman Catholic church in recent years ensured many of the quips flooding the Twittersphere and some of the cartoons published online and in newspapers across the continent had a dark theme.

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st peters square

Media gather in front of St. Peter's Basilica, at The Vatican, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. With a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope has done in more than half a millennium, stunning the world by announcing his resignation Monday and leaving the already troubled Catholic Church to replace the leader of its 1 billion followers by Easter. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

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Kim Daniels, director of Catholic Voices USA writes:

Catholics mark our year with feasts and fasts, times of repentance and times of rejoicing. Our calendar sets the rhythm of Catholic life. Given that, it's no accident that Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, patron saint of the sick.

Those focusing on papal politics miss the real story. With his resignation Pope Benedict -- arguably one of the most powerful people in the world -- has chosen to give up that temporal power to align himself with the sick, the weak, the frail. In doing so he's affirming the central Christian truth that "when I am weak, then I am strong."

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AP reports:

MEXICO CITY -- Latin America is home to the world's largest Roman Catholic population, but hopes that the next pope will come from the region appear faint, experts said Monday.

The predominance of Europeans on the College of Cardinals means that the odds are stacked against a Latin American pope, even though the names of a number of high-ranking churchmen from the region have been bandied about, analysts said. The 118-member college, with 62 European members and only 19 from Latin America, will elect a successor for Pope Benedict XVI, who announced Monday he will resign due to age.

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David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, writes in a blog post:

As the Pope himself admits, he had his flaws and he made mistakes, but he was and is undoubtedly a holy man. He should be remembered above all for that.

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Sheikh Mustafa Ceric, the former grand mufti of Bosnia, releases a statement on behalf A Common Word Initiative and the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute:

The news today about H.H. Pope Benedict XVI's resignation at the end of this month (February 2013) after nearly eight years as the successor of St. Peter and head of the Catholic Church was highly noticed by all the Muslims who had dialogue with him. First as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and then Pope Benedict XVI from 2005 to 2013 after John Paul II's death, he will be remembered as a foremost Catholic theologian and a sincere pastor for the Catholic faithful.

Although initially hurt by his remarks about Islam on September 12, 2006, while lecturing on "Faith, Reason and the University" at the University of Regensburg, Germany, Muslim Scholars appreciated his apology afterwards and his subsequent friendly visits to Islamic countries and mosques, particularly the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

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Religion News Service reports:

Pope Benedict XVI came into office with the reputation of a conservative hard-liner, a vigorous defender of orthodoxy who wanted to restore Tradition -- yes, with a capital "T"_ to a church that was seen as disturbingly undisciplined.

Yet with the stunning announcement that he is resigning as the 264th successor to Saint Peter, Benedict may wind up fundamentally changing the way the church and the world view the papacy.

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan writes in the New York Daily News:

Sede vacante: It’s a Latin phrase, and it means, “the chair is empty.”

On Monday, the 264th successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, announced that, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, the Chair of St. Peter would be empty.

For the first time in six centuries, a Pope is resigning.

We Catholics cherish symbols. A chair is a symbol, a sign, of authority, unity, wisdom.

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Reuters reports:

Father Federico Lombardi [Vatican spokesman] said the batteries on the appliance were replaced three months ago in a minor, routine intervention but that had played no part in persuading the pontiff to take the shock decision to step down.

"It had no influence on the decision, the reasons were in his perception that his strength had diminished with advancing age," Lombardi told a press briefing at the Vatican.

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After the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI's decision to abdicate as the head of the Catholic Church on Monday, front-page headlines across the world grew a few type sizes. The decision was surprising both for the faithful and for the guides and tour operators of Rome, a deeply tourist-dependent city where the Vatican is arguably the star attraction.

Local tour operators said yesterday that they plan to continue tours as usual, until either massive crowds, which descended during the last papal conclave, or the Vatican's dictates make doing so impossible.

For the rest of the story click here.

-- Andrew Burmon

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HuffPost Italy reports:

Less than three months ago, Pope Benedict XVI had heart surgery in the clinic Pius XI in Rome for the replacement of a pacemaker, "in absolute secrecy." This was reported on the front page of ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’in an article by the newspaper editor, Roberto Napoletano.

"The surgery went well," Napoletano said. "The Pope recovered regularly, he never missed an appointment with the Sunday Angelus, showed his usual serenity and good endurance. He was operated by Louis Chiariello, a heart surgeon who studied in the US and director of The University of Rome Tor Vergata. Chiariello has been treating the pulse and heart rates of the Pope for more than 10 years, since when he placed his first pacemaker."

Dr Chiariello “didn’t wanted to confirm the news,” writes Napoletano.“He entrenched behind a barrier of silence.” According to Il sole 24 Ore, before and after the surgery the Pope did not appear either troubled or extremely tired. He didn’t want to miss the appointment with the believers even on the Sunday immediately after the operation and “smiled on the hidden forces of his heart.”

“People close to him, by the way, saw him simply and firmly questioning about his ability to drive – in full force – the boat of St Peter and to proclaim the Gospel with the same courage and the same commitment demonstrated in recent years."

-- Giulia Belardelli

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Over at Business Insider, Michael Brendan Dougherty weighs the odds, and assesses pros and cons of each possible candidate for the papacy.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

Country: Canada

Position: Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, formerly Archbishop of Quebec.

Age: 68

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks him 5/2. He has done missionary work in South America. Last year we said that our money was on Ouellet. His rank among the betters has shot up dramatically.

What His Election Would Mean: It's a global Church now. His work in helping to vet and select bishops would give him the ability as pope to dramatically shape the Church for a generation or more.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: Most qualified. He speaks English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and German fluently. He has done missionary work in South America.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: He might decline. (You can decline your election) He has given every indication that papacy is a "crushing responsibility" that he would hesitate to take. Then again, that is exactly what makes him an attractive candidate.

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The Sydney Morning Herald's Ruth Pollard reports:

He is viewed as the Pope who helped improve relations between the Vatican and Israel, while also providing open support for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

As the news of Pope Benedict's retirement spread, Palestinian Catholics expressed their shock at his decision and their fears that it may reduce the authority of the church and the next Pope.

“We want the representative of the Holy See to be supportive of the marginalised, of the downtrodden and in this case, the Palestinians who are living under a brutal Israeli occupation,” said Zoughbi Zoughbi, the director of the Wi'am Palestinian Centre for Conflict Resolution.

“Anyone who comes into this position [of pope] has the responsibility of correcting injustices in all four corners of the world,” Mr Zoughbi said as he sat with friends in a café in Bethlehem.

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Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, released the following statement on the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI:

It was with a heavy heart but complete understanding that we learned this morning of Pope Benedict’s declaration of his decision to lay down the burden of ministry as Bishop of Rome, an office which he has held with great dignity, insight and courage. As I prepare to take up office I speak not only for myself, and my predecessors as Archbishop, but for Anglicans around the world, in giving thanks to God for a priestly life utterly dedicated, in word and deed, in prayer and in costly service, to following Christ. He has laid before us something of the meaning of the Petrine ministry of building up the people of God to full maturity.

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@ nwarikoo : Imam Qazwini, who heads the biggest mosque in Michigan, met with Pope Benedict XVI twice. He said: "I have so much admiration for the Pope."

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His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew released the following statement on Pope Benedict's abdication:

It is with regret that we have learned of the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict to retire from his Throne, because with his wisdom and experience he could have provided much more to the Church and the world.

Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige.

His writings will long speak of his deep theological understanding, through his knowledge of the Fathers of the undivided Church, his familiarity with contemporary reality, and his keen interest in the problems of humankind.

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h/t @nunblogger

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Rabbi Brad Hirschfield writes at The Washington Post:

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation, effective the end of February, and there are many ways to think about the significance of the event, including both the challenges and the opportunities in Catholic-Jewish relations that may come in the decision’s wake.

While some Jewish leaders have been troubled over the years by certain comments and actions by the outgoing pontiff, upon close examination, I think we see that there has been little if anything to be disturbed by, and much for which to be quite pleased. In fact, in his relationship to issues relating to Jews and Judaism, Pope Benedict has been, as he has been in regard to so many other matters, a fascinating figure -- deeply principled and highly intellectual, if sometimes frustrating in his seeming to be less than fully aware of the full emotional and public relations implications of some of his words and deeds.

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From the Associated Press:

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