Pope's news surprises Ave Maria president

Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University, said Pope Benedict XVI's announcement this morning that he planned to step down at the end of the month was surprising, but not entirely shocking.

“Now that I think about it, you can almost see it coming,” Towey said. “This man is a free thinker. He is not a prisoner of convention. He's a man of deep prayer. He announced a year of faith to encourage Catholics worldwide to deepen his faith, and he examined his own conscience and felt … God was calling him to resign his position.”

Towey said it was “jarring to get news there's going to be a change in the Catholic Church” but that those changes have occurred before.

“The church has always made new,” he said.

Towey said he met the pope a couple of times over the years and was “moved by his gentleness.”

Towey said the pope's announcement will be read at all of the Masses on campus.

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