Monaghan dumbstruck by pope's news

Tom Monaghan, founder of Ave Maria University, said he was dumbstruck when he first heard the news that Pope Benedict XVI was stepping down at the end of the month.

“I guess I didn't believe it when I heard it,” Monaghan said.

Monaghan said once he realized the announcement was true, his first concern was that his resignation would set a precedent for future popes to step down when people disagree with them. But Monaghan said after the shock subsided, he began to think the decision was a smart move.

“To me, in a way, it's a good thing,” he said. “If someone knows they can't handle the duties of state, it seems like the right thing to do.”

Monaghan said he had spoken to Pope Benedict several times over the years. The pope, Monaghan said, told him he often prayed for Ave Maria.

Monaghan said he doesn't know how the pope's decision will change the church.

“How can anyone know? It hasn't happened in so many years,” he said.

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