Pope's resignation shocks archbishop

Pope Benedict XVI to resign at end of February

MIAMI - The Archbishop of Miami says he was shocked when he heard Pope Benedict XVI was resigning.

"I think people are surprised because I think the pope was able to do this and scoop the world because none of the media found out about it," said Thomas Wenski. "There were no rumors leading up to this."

The pope said he will resign at the end of the month "because of advanced age."

"Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," the pope said, according to the Vatican.

Wenski last met with Benedict during a visit to Vatican City in May 2012.

"He was very alert and he was also very frail. You can see that. Again, I can appreciate the reason why he made that decision," Wenski said.

Benedict selected Wenski to lead the Archdiocese of Miami about three years ago.

"I'm grateful for his confidence in me," Wenski added.

The pair also went to Cuba together in March 2012, where Benedict met with Fidel and Raul Castro.

"He encouraged the Cubans and those in authority in Cuba to make Cuba a home where all Cubans can actually feel at home at for that he underlined the need for greater freedom," said Wenski, who said Mass in Havana during the trip.

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Cardinals will meet to choose Benedict's successor sometime after his official resignation on February 28, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said at a news conference.

"Before Easter, we will have the new pope," he said.

Benedict won't be involved in the decision, Lombardi said. But his influence will undoubtedly be felt. Benedict appointed 67 the 118 cardinals who will make the decision.

It's the first time a pope has stepped down in nearly 600 years.

President, Rubio issue statement on Benedict's resignation

President Obama issued a statement Monday on Benedict's resignation, saying: "On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.  The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also issued a statement, saying: "Today Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God's message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world."

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