|Updated: 2/12/2013 10:14 am
||Published: 2/11/2013 6:57 pm
For the first time in nearly 600 years, the pope is resigning effective at the end of the month.
Pope Benedict XVI made the surprise announcement in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals. He said he’s become too old and frail to lead more than one billion Catholics.
On Monday, FOX23 spoke with Bishop Edward Slattery about the pope’s decision which seemed to surprise even those closest to him.
The Bishop was in his room Monday morning when he received a call from the Vicar General asking him if he had heard the news.
"My first reaction was shock and disappointment because I love this pope,” says Bishop Slattery.
He says Pope Benedict XVI inspired him even before he was chosen to succeed Pope John Paul II. We asked him what this decision means for Roman Catholics here in Tulsa.
"It would be a spiritual thing. This is our pope. Even though most people have never seen him or met him, he is still the pope and we Catholics have affection for him because of our faith and who the pope is,” says Bishop Slattery.
Slattery says they’re not looking at this as a news item, but rather as part of their spirituality. And as for people who don’t practice the Catholic faith, he had this to say.
"They feel more at peace because we have a Catholic church, and so they're concerned because this will affect everybody in the world,” he says.
Photographs of Pope Benedict and Bishop Slattery decorate the walls of the Archdiocese of Tulsa. Slattery describes the pope as a gentle man who is meditative in nature. So, who does he see succeeding him?
"I don't think there are any front runners now and I don't think anybody knows. I think that he has prayed about this for quite a while knowing the pope to be a man of prayer. I don't think this was a hasty decision,” says Slattery.
On March 1st, it’s expected 118 cardinals will gather at the Sistine Chapel for a conclave to elect a new pope. They will stay there until they elect a successor. A cardinal must get a vote of two thirds plus one to become pope. Once a decision has been reached, the ballots are burned and white smoke will be seen coming from the Vatican.