ORANGE — Benedict XVI was already the oldest pontiff elected in nearly 300 years when he became pope at age 78. Now 85, he has slowed down significantly including cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences.
Pope Benedict announced his resignation Monday.
Bishop Curtis Guillory, SVD of Diocese of Beaumont was in Rome last March and visited with the pope.
“When I met with Pope Benedict in the morning, he seemed strong,” Guillory said. “But in the afternoon meeting you could see he was frail.”
The Vatican stressed on Monday that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision to become the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
“We saw in Pope Benedict’s ministry his faith in our Lord and his living out the Gospel message. As he led us, he truly lived as a witness to the faith, guiding the Catholic faithful worldwide, using the 2,000 years of traditions of our faith but also being part of the 21st century in ministering to all,” Guillory said. “He wanted everyone to have a personal encounter with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Benedict replaced John Paul, who died in 2005 at the age of 84. He was the Vatican’s most traveled pontiff, visiting 129 countries during his nearly 27- papacy and had captured the world’s affection like no other pope.
“I thank God for the blessings we have received through the ministry of Pope Benedict. Our prayers are with him in this Year of Faith and always as he transitions at the end of the month,” Guillory said. “This morning he said he wants to ‘serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.’ I am confident that the Holy Spirit will guide the Conclave of Cardinals next month at the Vatican as they pray and select the next pope, and I will keep them in my prayers as well.”