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Utah's bishop reflects on pope's resignation

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Utah's top catholic leader says the pope's resignation proves he is a humble man.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Utah's top catholic leader was not totally surprised by the announcement of Pope Benedict's resignation.

Bishop John Wester of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese says it shows that the pope is very different from others. He says it's very unusual for a leader to step down.

"This is positive proof that he a humble man," says Bishop Wester. "And it also shows that no man is bigger than the church."

Bishop Wester says he's met the pope on two occasions, once when he was a cardinal and last April during a bishops conference at the Vatican.

"I was struck by his gentleness, his kindness," recalls the bishop. "He's a quiet man really. He was a peaceful man you were in his presence it was ...you had a sense he was a man of peace."

News of the pope's resignation caught the bishop by surprise. But then again, he says there were hints last year.

"The pope said he made it clear that it would be possible for a pope to resign if necessary and if his health was not able to sustain him in the many arduous duties he has, he probably would," says the bishop.

He says the pope will be remembered for his scholarly writings about church doctrine. And he says the pope's legacy will include efforts to unite Catholics, Muslims and Jews.
But it's the pope's love for children that the bishop admirers most.

"I think he will be known as a pope who cares," says Bishop Wester. "I think he reached out to youth. He certainly responded with great clear emotion when he responded to things like the tragedy at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

It's been nearly 600 years since a pope resigned.
And while the bishop was caught off guard, he understand why this pope would walk away.

"He's given long service and stellar service and it looks like he's getting tired and finding it difficult to carry out his duties now," says the bishop.

He says the pope will now become a cardinal.
Cardinals will soon gather to select a new pope sometime in March. But don't expect Pope Benedict to be among those making the selection.

"He can't vote, he's over the age limit," says Bishop Wester.

He says Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict rewrote the rules for elections and this pope is over the age requirements.

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