NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he was just as surprised as the rest of the world to learn that Pope Benedict XVI will be resigning at the end of the month due to failing health.
The pope said Monday that he will step down on Feb. 28 — the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. The 85-year-old Benedict XVI made the announcement during a meeting of Vatican cardinals.
“I’m as shocked and startled as all of you,” Dolan told reporters Monday morning. “I don’t know what to say. I, myself, am waiting for information, for instructions.”
Speaking to CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, Dolan said he was not certain what the next step would be once Pope Benedict XVI resigns.
“This hasn’t happened in six centuries,” Dolan said. “Now, we know what happens when the pope dies. Whether the same protocol will kick in, I don’t know. We’re waiting to see.”
Dolan told Pelley he expects the College of Cardinals to convene on March 1 since, with no pope in office, the College of Cardinals would be in charge of the day-to-day leadership functions of the Church.
Dolan said he will travel to Rome to vote in the conclave, a secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new pope.
“It’s awesome,” Dolan said. “I’ve known since becoming cardinal the awesome responsibility of helping choose a new pope.”
“There’s a bit of sadness. It’s like watching your own dad get old and admit that he’s not up to all the duties that being the head of the family involves and there’s a somberness there,” he said. “There’s a sadness there. But still there is an immense gratitude to God for the gift that he’s given us in Benedict XVI.”