City Catholics shocked by Pope's resignation
THE Bishop of Plymouth has spoken of his surprise after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.
Bishop Christopher Budd said he was "as surprised as anyone else" when he heard the news that the Pope will resign at the end of the month due to his age.
Popes usually serve until they die, and Pope Benedict's announcement means he will be the first pope of the modern era to stand down from the role.
Bishop Christopher said: "A pope resigning isn't unheard of, but I believe the last was in the Middle Ages.
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"This says a lot about who Pope Benedict is. He has always had his feet on the ground, including about himself.
"I am sure seven years ago he would have told his electors that he would only be able to serve for a certain time.
"Clearly he has assessed himself, assessed his powers and decided that it is time he resigned."
Asked whether Pope Benedict has been "a good pope", Bishop Christopher said: "That is a very broad question, he has certainly been a good man. I think his legacy will be in what he has written. Pope John Paul II before him served for a long time and obviously wrote a lot, and while Pope Benedict has not written so much his writings are more clear, and easy to understand."
The bishop, whose diocese covers Plymouth, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, travelled to Birmingham to meet the Pope at a lunch in 2010, and in the same year he met him at the Vatican.
Damien Hopton, of the Plymouth Catholic Student Society, said: "The news that Pope Benedict is resigning has come as a great shock to us all, however we feel that it is a brave and courageous decision.
"Being Pope is not about your career but a vocation, a calling to be a shepherd and to look after God's flock on earth, you can see this clearly in his decision. The Pope must feel that his health would slow down and hinder this task and therefore his vocation now calls on him to step down and take other duties."
He added: "Looking back, this Pope has left his mark on the Catholics in this country. Loads of people from Plymouth travelled up to see the Pope when he visited the UK. By the time he had left he had inspired and energised the Catholic community. He has also left us with a lot of teaching and started the Year of Faith which has had a clear impact on Plymouth with numerous talks and meeting being held to support this."