LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony praised outgoing Pope Benedict XVI for his legacy of spreading Catholicism throughout the world and said he looks forward to traveling to Vatican City to help elect a successor.
Pope Benedict announced Monday during a Vatican consistory that he would be resigning at the end of the month. “My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said.
Benedict said he would step down at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28. A conclave of cardinals will be held in March to elect a new pope in time for Easter.
He is the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign from the office.
In a statement issued Monday morning, Mahony said it was his privilege to participate in the April 2005 conclave to elect Benedict.
“I recall so clearly his words when he told the cardinals that he was choosing the name of Benedict because of his fondness for the prayerfulness and the Rule of St. Benedict, and also because Pope Benedict XV [1914—1920] served during a time of turmoil and wars across the world,” Mahony said.
“His homilies and addresses were so amazing because he was not speaking about Jesus Christ as a topic, but he was speaking about Jesus from a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus himself,” according to Mahony’s statement. “Surely one of his great legacies will be a continuing emphasis on the need for all Catholics to exercise their role as evangelizers in the world. His focus upon the new evangelization will continue to enliven all disciples of Jesus.”
Cardinals under the age of 80 are eligible to vote. They are sequestered in Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy.
Last month, after the release of thousands of pages of records about sexual abuse by priests, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced that he had relieved Mahony of all public duties. The move, spurred by what Gomez said was Mahony’s mishandling of the abuse cases, is unprecedented in the American Catholic Church.
Despite the public censure, Mahony is still allowed to help select a new Pope.
“I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the conclave to elect his successor.
Mahony has since apologized for his actions in the sexual-abuse cases.
Mahony also reminded Gomez: “I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the archdiocese was safe for everyone. Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then. But when I retired as the active archbishop, I handed over to you an archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth.”