(NEW YORK)- Timothy Cardinal Dolan— who will be among the 117 church leaders who choose the next pontiff — said he was stunned, like most everyone else, when he learned Pope Benedict XVI would be stepping down from his position February 28th. But Dolan knew the Holy Father, nearly 86 years old, was losing some stamina.
“I would presume his esteem for the office, as the successor to Saint Peter, is so high that, in all humility, he simply said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
Dolan spoke near the papal chair in his Madison Avenue residence, beneath a portrait of Benedict, after getting confirmation the pontiff was resigning. It’s the first time this has happened in nearly 600 years.
When Gregory XII left the job, in 1415, he was trying to settle a civil war within the church, with another man laying claim to the papacy. Here’s a look at the health issues—and political pressures—Pope Benedict has faced, since he was elected to the papacy in April 2005.