AP Photo/Cathleen Allison
Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 | 3:57 p.m.
The top Roman Catholic official in Las Vegas is asking for Catholics to pray for the health of Pope Benedict XVI, who announced he would resign his papacy at the end of the month.
The Most Rev. Joseph A. Pepe, bishop of Las Vegas, praised the 85-year-old pontiff, who early Monday sent shockwaves with the announcement of his resignation – the first by a pope since the middle ages.
“I am sure this was not an easy answer to arrive at, and we as a Catholic community pray for his continued health and ministry in prayer and reflection in the coming years,” Pepe said in a statement.
Pepe, who leads an estimated 643,000 Catholics in a diocese that covers five Nevada counties – Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Nye and White Pine – said he admired Benedict’s courage to step down. The last to do so was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
“We are grateful to Pope Benedict for his papal ministry and the special gifts he extended as pope in the depth of faith and love he had for Christ and His Church,” Pepe said.
The church's College of Cardinals will elect Benedict's successor after the resignation becomes official.