Colleen Kelleher, wtop.com
WASHINGTON – Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down “just stunned” Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.
“I was very, very much surprised,” Wuerl tells WTOP.
Wuerl says there was no indication last month when he saw the pope that the pontiff would resign.
Wuerl says he received a call from Rome about the pope’s resignation early Monday.
He says it appears the pope “in his heart, feels that he doesn’t have the strength to continue on.”
“I don’t think we should be surprised that when he reached this conclusion that he would have both the humility and the courage to take it, but it certainly came as a surprise,” Wuerl says.
The next step will be to determine a timeline for selecting the next pope.
Wuerl says a conclave, a gathering of cardinals under the age of 80, will convene to make the decision.
Wuerl says just being pope carries with it enormous responsibilities worldwide.
“The job itself is so huge,” he says.
With the scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years, WTOP asked Wuerl who would want the position.
“The Lord calls people to follow in his footsteps and somebody has to take that responsibility. It’s a challenge today,” he says.
“The higher up you get in the hierarchy, the heavier the burden is.”
Listen to Wuerl’s full interview with WTOP to the right.
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Pope Benedict will become the first pontiff to
resign since the Middle Ages.