Bishop Of Northampton Shocked By Pope's Resignation

The Catholic Bishop of Northampton, Bishop Peter Doyle has spoken to Heart and says he was shocked by the news today of the Pope's resignation.

Pope Benedict the 16th made the surprise announcement this morning - saying he is too weak to fulfil duties of his office.

Speaking to Heart shortly after the announcement, Bishop Doyle, whose Diocese covers all of Northamptonshire said: "I suppose I was just amazed at the news and challenged by it. It is a courageous decision made before God, due to ill health and the enormous burden and responsibility of being Pope. Approaching the age of 86 I suppose he is being practical about it.

He's been very precious to us. I was appointed Bishop of Northampton soon after he was made Pope - and I was described as the first of "Benny's boys in Britain" as someone described it - so I have a vey positive view of him.

On a visit to the Vatican, he spoke very good English to me - he was concerned for the Church - but not only for the Church, for civic society, for our young people and for everybody - just as a shepherd of the Catholic Church should be.

He was very welcoming and courteous - and was very interested in the people of the Diocese. It was also a wonderful experience when he came to the UK.

He came to the Papacy with a reputation of "the Rottweiler". He turned out not to be as conservative as people thought he would be, he's been much more open - but he had to deal with the terrible paedophile scandal in the Church and I'm sure that was a very difficult and exhausting period of him as new (safety) procedures were put in place."

Heart asked the Bishop what will be happening today and in the coming days: "Well, I suppose we'll be getting used to the news. We'll be praying for the Pope, and then praying for the Carndinals in Conclave who will choose the man God wants as the man who'll be successsor to Benedict the 16th."

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