On Monday Catholics were greeted with the unexpected news of Pope Benedict VXI announcing he will be stepping down at the end of the month. San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, who was appointed by Benedict, expressed his thoughts on moving forward and gratitude for the Pope’s years of service.
Like many across the world, Archbishop Garcia-Siller said the announcement came as a surprise to him. The Archbishop sent three weeks with the Pontiff in October during the last Synod of Bishops at the Vatican.
“It is true that he was walking in a slower pace, he was wearing a cane but there was not any indication that his health was in jeopardy in a particular way,” Garcia-Siller said.
Pope Benedict said in a statement that his strengths due to an advanced age were no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the ministry.
As talk of who will replace the 85-year-old Pontiff emerges and the names of Cardinals from Latin American and other counties come to speculation, the Archbishop said the possibility of a non-European Pope has been discussed since John Paul II died.
"It's true that the Church in Latin America, and Africa, and Asia is growing in many ways and that there are - particularly in Latin America - many many Catholics, but the lord will provide the church with someone that is wise and that is with the talents to face the issues of the world today and for the years to come," he said.
It’s likely that after Pope Benedict steps down he will become a Cardinal once again. Selection of a new Pope will begin in March. Benedict is the first Pope to resign in nearly 600 years since Gregory XII in 1415.