Bishop Terry LaValley, left, and Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. Photo ©Servizio Fotografico de “L’O.R” 00120 CITTA DEL VATICANO, used by permission.
OGDENSBURG -- As the Catholic world absorbs the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will be stepping down, the leader of the Diocese of Ogdensburg is expressing gratitude "for this holy man."
"The Church, indeed, the whole world has been so richly blessed these last eight years through the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI," said Bishop Terry LaValley in a statement from the diocese yesterday.
"While today’s announcement of his retirement at the end of this month came as a complete surprise, one can certainly understand it, given the grueling schedule of the Successor of St. Peter," LaValley said.
Benedict has cited his age and the demands of the office as his reason for retiring.
"I have special affection and respect for the Holy Father who appointed me three years ago as the Fourteenth Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. The prophetic and compassionate leadership of this man of deep faith inspires such hope in millions of people, Catholic and non-Catholic, throughout the world," said the bishop.
"The Church of Ogdensburg joins people of good will everywhere in a prayer of deep gratitude for this holy man."
“His decision is clearly one of great courage and one of deep love for the Church,” said Robert J. Cunningham, Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse and Bishop LaValley's predecessor in Ogdensburg.
“He has publicly recognized that he no longer has the strength to carry out the duties of his papacy which is a further sign of his great humility,” Cunningham said.
“Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as a great theologian, a consummate teacher and a warm, caring spiritual leader. The Universal Church is grateful for his eight years as its Holy Father. May God grant him the peace he so richly deserves,” Cunningham said.