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Forum staff reports, Published February 11 2013

ND Catholic bishop surprised, saddened by pope's resignation

BISMARCK – The Rev. David Kagan, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, said today he is “not just surprised, but saddened” by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

“Since Pope Benedict XVI is the one who appointed me to be bishop of the church, I’m saddened that this has taken place. But, it gives all of us a great sense of peace and hope that ultimately it is Almighty God, the Holy Spirit, who inspires and guides all of us, beginning with the Holy Father,” Kagan said in a statement.

Kagan has overseen all Catholic churches in North Dakota since July, when the former bishop of the Fargo Diocese, the Rev. Samuel Aquila, became the Archbishop of the Denver Archdiocese. A new bishop for the Fargo Diocese has not yet been named.

Earlier today, the 85-year-old Pope Benedict said he had come to the certainty “that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

“I think we need to take our Holy Father’s announcement and the reasons he gave much to heart. The Holy Father, as we know, lives a very rigorous and public life. His schedule is quite grueling,” Kagan said in his statement.

Benedict said that he will step down at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, Rome time. He is the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

At a press conference, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said there would be elections in March, and he anticipates that there will be a new pope before Easter.

Benedict was elected pope in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.